KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY: Manager Roy Hodgson put a positive face on the 1-1 home draw with Ukraine here at Wembley after conceding that England had “started poorly” in their World Cup qualifier.
Fans hoping for a winning follow-up to the easy 5-0 victory in Moldova last Friday were disappointed; England needed a late Frank Lampard penalty to snatch a point after Ukraine’s led at half-time through Ievgeni Konoplianka.
Hodgson: “We didn’t do that badly. We started poorly in the first 10 minutes but then we got into stride and had control over the game. We went one down to a wonder strike but it was very pleased with the way we kept creating chances and we we fully deserved our equalizer.
“The posts were made to work a few times and I am very pleased with the way the players went about their task.”
Hodgson, missing senior men such as Ashley Cole, John Terry and Wayne Rooney, was encouraged by the performances of his youngsters especially second-half attacking substitutes Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck, who forced the equalizing spot-kick.
He added: “We did miss a few players but the youngsters who came in acquitted themselves well. They showed we are not totally reliant on the so-called old guard and have youngsters coming through who can step up to the plate.”
Hodgson considered Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir to have been over-zealous with all the yellow cards and considered skipper Steven Gerrard undeserving of either of his bookings and thus the red card which will keep him out of the next qualifier, against San Marino.
Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin thought he could not have imagined his team achieving a better start to their World Cup campaign.
He said: “In the first half we created problems which England could not solve and made some really good chances. We had so many opportunities then that we should have won but a game lasts 90 minutes and in the second half our younger players were a little intimidated that we were winning againstEngland.
“England excelled in the second half and we grew tired. That’s usual. Normally I don’t boast or praise my players individually but Zozulia played very well in difficult circumstances. Young English players of his age come into theEnglandteam having come up through a competitive Premier League but inUkrainewe don’t have such pressure.
“Overall I’m happy with the result. We played well. It was a very good result for us.”
= = =