England overcome the omens against Ukraine on this day.
The omens may have looked suspect for Fabio Capello and his England side when they faced Ukraine on 1 April 2009 – the Italian’s 13th game in charge of the national side – but there were to be no unlucky slip-ups for the Three Lions.
In front of a packed Wembley Stadium England started the brighter, in this their fifth 2010 World Cup qualifying game. Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney was his usual effervescent self and terrorised the Ukraine defence, producing a fantastic acrobatic effort that landed frustratingly on the roof the visitors’ goal early on.
The breakthrough, however, came from Rooney’s strike partner on the night, Peter Crouch. The rangy striker reacted quickest to John Terry’s knockdown from a Frank Lampard corner just shy of the half hour mark and England looked in good shape.
At 1-0 England continued to press and enjoyed the majority of chances but it was the evergreen Ukraine forward Andriy Shevchenko – brought on as a 55th minute substitute – who silenced the Wembley cheers, stabbing an equaliser from an Oleksandr Aliev free-kick in the 74th minute.
All of a sudden it looked like there could a be cruel April Fools’ Day joke in the offing, but maintaining their shape and composure the Three Lions still pushed for the winning goal.
With just five minutes to go and supporters’ nerves beginning to fray, John Terry showed his captain’s credentials when he nudged in his sixth goal for his country, after a Steven Gerrard knockdown from a David Beckham free-kick.
The 2-1 victory maintained Capello’s 100 per cent record in their World Cup qualifying campaign and ensured he and his charges were no April Fools.