Frank Lampard's penalty against Ukraine just papers over the cracks for England

England 1 Ukraine 1

Wembley Stadium

Not that anyone would have wanted to remind Roy Hodgson as England chased an equaliser last night, but the last time the national team lost a qualifying game for a major tournament at Wembley it was the dark days of the end of Steve McClaren's regime. And we all remember how that one ended.

Hodgson was spared a disastrous defeat by Frank Lampard's goal from the penalty spot with three minutes left but by the end of the match, with Steven Gerrard sent off and England unsure whether to go for the win or protect the point they had, there was an unsettling sense of chaos about the performance. The previously benign looking Group H has bared its teeth just two games in.

Ukraine, who England will play in Kiev in September next year, are now, on paper at least, in the box seat for the one automatic qualification place in the group. Yes, there are many games to be played, and plenty of twists and turns but the tension goes up a notch and the margin for error is reduced. Such is life with the England team, although Hodgson will know as much by now.

It is not unusual for England to drop points at home – Fabio Capello's side drew with Montenegro and Switzerland at Wembley in qualification for Euro 2012 – but it was the ragged nature of the performance that will cause concern. Flaky in defence and ineffective, until the closing stages, in attack, this was not the great flagship performance for Hodgson's England.

Perhaps that is not surprising when the manager was missing 12 players through illness and injury who might otherwise have been in the squad. But that is the nature of international football, a team has to cope with the absences and the changes in personnel from month to month and last night England struggled.

His first game at Wembley, and just his third cap, was a rough night for Tom Cleverley who missed two good chances in the first half, then hit the post and was substituted just after the hour. That said it would be wrong to load too much blame on the 23-year-old's shoulders. The No 10, playmaker role weighed heavy on him and he cannot be written off on the basis of one bad match.

So too Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who fought his own battle to get into the game. Of greater concern were the lapses in concentration from Joleon Lescott – first of all to give the ball away for the goal scored by Yevgen Konoplyanka and then for a messy challenge on Roman Zozulia that earned him a booking in the second half. Those two were the pick of a Ukraine team which had only two changes from the starting line-up that lost to England in Donetsk in June.

From Gerrard there was a performance of contrasts. He never hid, especially when the chips were down, and it was him as much as anyone who forced England on in search of the equaliser. That said, he should have been given a straight red card for an elbow on Ruslan Rotan that earned him his first booking, and the second lunge at Denys Garmash was careless. Fortunately for Hodgson, Gerrard only misses the home qualifier against San Marino.

England reconvene next for that game at Wembley on 12 October and the trip to Warsaw to face Poland four days later. Hodgson will have a different set of problems by then but he will know nothing less than six points will do.

He changed his team last night without using Michael Carrick, who has played just 45 minutes of the two opening qualifiers. Instead he switched to a 4-3-3 formation for the closing stages with Danny Welbeck, who won the penalty, and Daniel Sturridge entering the game as substitutes to play either side of Jermain Defoe. It eventually got England the goal that on balance they deserved. In the first half, a ludicrous decision by the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir denied Defoe a goal. The Spurs striker burst forward into the box and hit a great shot inside Andrei Pyatov's near post but in flinging his arms back as he began his run he struck Andrii Yarmolenko in the throat who made the most of it and Cakir disallowed the goal.

Had it been allowed to stand it would have settled England's nerves although at that point they scarcely deserved it. Even before Ukraine scored, Rotan had a shot blocked by Gerrard behind Joe Hart. Yevgen Selin, an impressive left-back, crossed for Garmash who could not direct his shot under the bar. For the goal, Lescott gave the ball to Yarmolenko, who was rolling around on the ground trying to win a foul when he realised he had possession. Within three passes it was at the feet of Konoplyanka who cut in from the left away from Gerrard and unleashed a fine shot beyond Hart.

By then, England's best chances had fallen to Cleverley. On 34 minutes, Defoe's misdirected header dropped to him in the area and he struck his shot straight at Pyatov when he should have scored. Just before half-time he was too casual with a flick from Lampard's cross and the ball went wide. He struck the post moments later.

Hodgson ran through the changes in the second half but there was not much at his disposal. Not with Theo Walcott out with illness, Peter Crouch ignored for selection and Andy Carroll injured. Cleverley was the first to go after the hour to be replaced by Welbeck who was once again pushed out to his less-favoured left side.

England were not creating chances. Glen Johnson cut in from the right and had a shot pushed around the post by Pyatov. Hodgson switched Leighton Baines for Ryan Bertrand, although it was not immediately clear why. Welbeck hit the post on 82 minutes and the pressure increased. It was the Manchester United striker's shot that was handled by Yevgen Khacheridi for the penalty.

There is no-one England would rather have in these situations than Lampard whose 26th goal for England takes him level with Bryan Robson in 12th place in the all-time goalscorers' list. Gerrard was dismissed after that and with his captain in the tunnel and Ukraine on the attack, Hodgson looked distinctly relieved at the end with the point.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Man of the match Konoplyanka.

Match rating 8/10.

Referee C Cakir (Tur).

Attendance 68,102.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice