England tie with Ukraine
Written By: Robert Halter
Roy Hodgson took charge of his first competitive game at Wembley Stadium as England manager, when the Three Lions welcomed Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine for a Group H World Cup qualification fixture for the 2014 finals in Brazil. A swerving shot by Oleg Gusiev took a wicked deflection in the third minute to prevent an early opening for Ukraine. On nine minutes, Jermain Defoe’s lethal strike at goal was ruled out after the England marksman pushed Andrii Iarmolenko to the floor on route to scoring, as the celebrations of England fans turned to disappointment after the disallowed goal. On the breakaway, Ukraine created another opportunity as Ievgenii Konoplianka found Ruslan Rotan unmarked but his shot at goal was put behind by England captain Steven Gerrard to avert the danger, at the quarter of an hour mark. With just under half an hour played, a floating ball in by Yevgen Selin could not be kept down from Denys Garmash as with his outstretched leg, he put his shot over the bar, to leave the England goal untroubled. A glaring miss by Tom Cleverley let Ukraine off the hook in the thirty third minute, when the England number ten fired the ball directly at shot stopper Andril Piatov, after Gerrard’s high cross had been headed down by Defoe before Cleverley failed to convert. But it was Ukraine that drew the first blood in spectacular fashion in the thirty ninth minute, as Konoplianka cut inside Gerrard before unleashing a ferocious strike from distance that flew past Joe Hart’s despairing dive, into the right hand side of the net. As half time approached, Cleverley saw his effort rebound off the outside of the right post, after fine work down the right flank by James Milner had presented the chance going into the break. The frustration was starting to show for England as Gerrard was booked for his trailing arm on Rotan, eight minutes into the second half. But when Yvgen Selin was yellow carded for a foul on Milner, Gerrard was unable to capitalise from a free kick as England looked for options to get back into the game. Although Konoplianka was again dangerous going down the left flank, as his cross had to be hooked over the bar by Leighton Baines in the fifty eighth minute. Cleverley got his marching orders five minutes later as England looked for more fire power by replacing him with Danny Welbeck. But England edged closer to drawing level on sixty eight minutes, when Piatov was at full stretch to keep out Glen Johnson’s well struck low drive. Another change in the Three Lions strike force saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain make way for Daniel Sturridge but this was followed by another needless booking for England after Joleon Lescott fell on top of Roman Zozulia. In another throw of the dice, Ryan Bertrand replaced Baines but this was again followed by another yellow card for England after Milner’s reckless challenge on Yarosla Rakitskyy. When Denys Garmash went into the book for a tug on Welbeck’s shirt, Gerrard was unable to make use of a free kick, as Piatov punched the ball away for safety, as the match headed into the final ten minutes of normal time. The woodwork once again denied England a goal on eighty two minutes as Gerrard supplied Sturridge, who in turn set up Welbeck, whose effort struck the foot of the left post but at the other end Roman Zozulia could have sewn the game up for Ukraine before firing wide. The miss was to prove costly, as on eighty seven minutes, England were awarded a penalty for a hand ball by Yevgen Khacheridi when stopping Welbeck’s shot, and Lampard made no mistake with his spot kick by drilling the ball into the heart of the goal. But this was swiftly followed by the Three Lions losing their captain Gerrard to a red card, after he was sent off by referee Cuneyt Cakir for digging into Garmash which left England to finish the game with ten men. When Johnson was booked for fouling V’yacheslav Shevchuk, a free kick by Konoplianka had to be punched away for safety by Hart at the end which secured a point for England after they finished all square with Ukraine.