After a convincing 5-0 win away at Moldova, England faced a much tougher task tonight at home against Ukraine. Over 80,000 people were at Wembley to watch Roy Hodgson’s men take on Ukraine in their second World Cup Qualifying match. In a game which saw one amazing goal, one glaring miss, one penalty and one red card, both teams had to settle for a point after the game ended 1-1. It will not be the result that Roy Hodgson or England were after and they will be bitterly disappointed with the manner of the result. A very poor performance for England’s standards saw them struggle to create chances and whenever they did create a chance, they saw it go to waste.
It wasn’t a great performance by the referee at Wembley and he first came under pressure when he wrongly disallowed an England goal after Jermain Defoe smashed home from outside the box to only find out that the ref had already given a free-kick the other way after it seemed that Jermain had waved an arm in the Ukranian defender’s face. The free-kick seemed very harsh and rightly so a lot of the England side were left fuming at the decision.
A glorious chance for England came in the 33rd minute. A cross came into the box which Jermain Defoe headed back across right in the path of Tom Cleverley who was standing un-marked about two yards away from goal, but saw his shot go straight into the keeper and bounce wide. A massive chance for the young Manchester United midfielder and unfortunately for him, his game didn’t improve.
After a very cagey first half hour with neither team being able to create much, it was no surprise when the first goal came from nothing. Ukraine midfielder, Yevgen Konoplianka, picked up the ball from inside the England half and ran towards Joe Hart’s goal before curling a beautiful shot right into the top corner past the reaching Joe Hart. It was a truly wonderful goal from the Ukraine international and that is how it stayed until half time.
However there were two more chances for England before the first half ended and they both came down to Tom Cleverley. The first chance saw Frank Lampard pull back a pass straight to the young midfielder who completely mis-hit his volley and saw the ball fly wide. Tom then got into a good position once again, but saw his blasted shot smash against the post.
The second half was a very edgy affair with no real glorious moments for either side, but then after the 80th minute it all got interesting. Second half substitute, Danny Welbeck, had a glorious chance to level the scores but his six yard shot fired against the post. A big opportunity which he should have buried, but unfortunately, like his club-mate, Tom Cleverley, he couldn’t find the back of the net.
Then came more referee controversy, when he refused to give England a penalty when it appeared that Danny Welbeck was tripped by a Ukrainian defender. A big appeal from England players were turned away by the referee and after looking at the replays, it seems like he made the right choice as it looked like Welbeck was looking for the penalty.
However a couple minutes later, England did get a penalty. Danny Welbeck unleashed a powerful volley towards goal which saw Ukraine defender, Yevhen Khacheridi, raise his arm and block the ball with his hand. A yellow card was show for the defender and the penalty was drilled home by Mr penalty himself, Frank Lampard. A huge sigh of relief for Roy Hodgson and for all England fans as they were rescued and a point was saved.
It ended on a sour note for England as captain, Steven Gerrard was sent off for a second bookable offence late on.
A point wasn’t what England were looking for, but after the performance, I think most people would take the point
Alex William Batt