Walcott scored shortly after coming on as a substitute and then set up Danny Welbeck for a winner as England rallied for an entertaining 3-2 win over Sweden on Friday.
The result eliminated Sweden from the European Championship and put England on course for the quarterfinals. The English only need a draw against co-host Ukraine in the final group game to advance.
“Just to make my first appearance in such a high-profile arena it just means so much to me,” Walcott said. “It’s been a long time waiting and hopefully there’ll be more to come from me.”
Walcott was overlooked for his younger Arsenal teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in England’s opening game of the tournament, only coming on in injury time, and again began on the bench on Friday in favor of James Milner and Ashley Young. But after England wasted a halftime lead to fall behind 2-1 against a Sweden team desperate for a victory, coach Roy Hodgson turned to Walcott in the 61st minute.
Three minutes later, Walcott put England level with a swerving shot from distance after a corner was headed out to the speedy winger outside the area.
He followed that up by breaking into the area and sending a low cross to Welbeck, who flicked a backheel past a diving Andreas Isaksson in the 78th to give England its first win over Sweden in a competitive game in eight tries.
FRANCE 2, UKRAINE 0
In Donetsk, Ukraine, France won a match at a major tournament for the first time since Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt, beating Ukraine in a storm-delayed match.
Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye scored early in the second half for the French, who last won a major match in the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup. In the final of that tournament, Zidane was given a red card for his head-butt in the last match of his career.
“We scored twice and could have had more,” France coach Laurent Blanc said. “We have a lot of potential."
After a 1-1 draw with England in its opening match, France has four points in Group D, one more than Ukraine. The French also extended their unbeaten run to 23 games.