Roy Hodgson relieved but cries foul over England captain Steven Gerrard's red card
Press Pass: Has Roy Hodgson masterminded how to play Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard together? Will Tom Cleverley be replaced by Jack Wilshere when he returns? Will Wayne Rooney leave Manchester United?
Relieved, angry, defensive. Roy Hodgson was all of these after England were either held to a draw at home by Ukraine, or rallied to snatch a point, depending on your perspective. The England manager, being a reasonable balanced man, saw both viewpoints, but he was less equivocal about a referee who disallowed Jermain Defoe's "goal" in the first half and dismissed captain Steven Gerrard in the second.
"I thought all the yellow cards were very harsh," said Hodgson. "I don't think there were a lot of bad fouls – or fouls full stop – so I think there were far too many cards for the fouls committed, and we got too many. Steven is extremely unlucky to be sent off. The two fouls he was adjudged to have committed were unworthy of yellow cards. Jermain's goal was disallowed for a foul but we didn't see a foul from the bench."
As for the result Hodgson admitted "you're always relieved when you're losing 1-0 and get a late equaliser" but he added: "I didn't think we did that badly. We stuck to our task. We started very poorly but, once in our stride, we had control of the game. We went down to a wonder strike, but I was pleased with the way we kept probing, playing our football and taking chances. We deserved our equaliser. It was a better performance tonight than the one which gave us a 1-0 victory against them over there at Euro 2012. We asked more questions of them tonight and had we lost it would have been harsh justice.
"At least I'm happy we came out with something because had we lost the game it would have been very harsh on us, as it was for them to lose that game in Ukraine."
Hodgson praised the performances of his substitutes, Danny Welbeck, Ryan Bertrand and Dean Sturridge and said of Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: "It was always going to be tough on them after their performances on Friday against Moldova, but I still thought they acquitted themselves fine."
Frank Lampard said of his late penalty equaliser: "It is always a bit nerve-wracking when it is the end of the game." He echoed his manager's sentiments on England's performance, adding: "A point is a good result when you are 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go. We showed great character. We'd hit the post, had a good goal disallowed, but kept going. It is a long group and these games are not easy."
Oleg Blokhin, the Ukraine coach, was pleased despite narrowly missing out on a first win at Wembley. "I couldn't imagine a better start for us," he said. "We created problems for England, particularly in the first half, that they could not solve. We had some really good chances and played so well, even if my younger players were perhaps a bit intimidated to find themselves beating England here.
"For us it's a very big positive result. We got a point and we'll be competing alongside England, Poland and Montenegro to win the group, so it's a good result for us."
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