A 0-0 draw with Ukraine leaves England's World Cup hopes in their own hands
Ukraine 0-0 England
FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifier
7.45pm, Tuesday 10 September 2013
Olympic Stadium, Kiev
England maintained their place at the top of World Cup qualifying Group H
with a well-earned draw and another clean sheet against Ukraine in Kiev.
On a night of few chances, neither side were able to find the goal that would have put them in the driving seat for Brazil 2014.
The result means Roy Hodgson’s men are one point ahead of the chasing duo of Ukraine and Montenegro with next month’s fixtures deciding which nation earns an automatic place for next summer's World Cup, which will have to make do with a play-off and which will go empty handed.
The Three Lions arrived at the Olympic Stadium on the back of a solid 4-0 victory over Moldova
that had sent them leapfrogging group leaders Montenegro, as Hodgson made just one change from that game at Wembley.
James Milner came in for the suspended Danny Welbeck, who netted that special back-heeler against Sweden in this stadium during Euro 2012.
There was also a start for Frank Lampard as the Chelsea midfielder became the eighth England player to reach 100 caps. He lined up along two fellow members of that elite group, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole, and it was the first time three centurions had played together for the Three Lions.
Both teams could have found themselves with goals in the opening 15 minutes. Joe Hart was lucky to see a challenge on Roman Zozulia not given as a penalty, while Yevhen Konoplyanka’s pace on the Ukraine left gave Kyle Walker some early headaches.
At the other end, Theo Walcott nipped in behind his marker to carve out a chance inside the box, but Pyatov saved. His bravery was rewarded with a solid, and unintentional, body-check from the Arsenal forward that left the keeper needing treatment.
It was end-to-end stuff, with each team earning early opportunities from corners, and while the defences looked nervy, they held firm to keep their opponents out.
Though Hodgson would have been the happier manager to take a point from the game, neither team were sitting back. But it was the final pass from both that was preventing anymore real chances from coming.
Ukraine looking long in behind England’s back four, while the Three Lions were trying to play from the middle and get Walcott and Milner involved deeper.
Captain Steven Gerrard did find a little space for a shot with the game nearly 35 minutes old, but his curling long-ranger dipped onto the roof of Pyatov’s net without ever troubling the Shakhtar Donetsk man.
Ukraine took the initiative in the opening exchanges of the second half with their more direct approach and whenever England did get into a position of dominance, the referee’s whistle would break play up for a niggly foul.
The home side almost worked a superb chance, though, when they did shorten up their passing. It came from a counter-attack on their left as a low ball into Zozulia in the box was laid into the path of Andriy Yarmolenko. But Gerrard was on hand to sweep away the danger.
Hodgson and his counterpart Mykhaylo Fomenko agreed it was time for a change. The Ukrainian introduced forward threat Roman Bezus, while Hodgson gave Ashley Young a run in place of Jack Wilshere.
Young took longer to get into the game than Bezus, though. The Manchester United man gave away two passes cheaply, while the Ukrainian fed in Zozulia who was felled by Walker on the edge of the box.
Fortunately the free-kick was deflected wide, but they came closer when Artem Fedetskiy met a left-sided corner unmarked. His weak header bounced straight into Hart’s welcoming grasp.
Neither side really took hold of the initiative, and other than Lampard’s late header from six yards that almost stunned the home side, the game always looked destined for a stalemate.
The draw means England’s World Cup destiny is firmly in their own hands with two games against Montenegro and Poland, both at Wembley, remaining next month.
12 Andriy Pyatov, 3 Yevhen Khacheridi, 5 Oleksandr Kucher (c), 6 Taras Stepanenko, 7 Andriy Yarmolenko, 8 Roman Zozulia (11 Yevhen Seleznyov, 90), 9 Oleg Gusev (15 Roman Bezus, 68), 10 Yevhen Konoplyanka, 13 Vyacheslav Shevchuk, 17 Artem Fedetskiy, 21 Edmar
Subs not used 1 Koval, 2 Dedechko, 4 Tymoshchuk, 14 Khomchenovskiy, 16 Mandziuk, 18 Grechyshkin, 19 Morozyuk, 20 Rakitskiy, 22 Devic, 23 Khudzhamov
1 Joe Hart, 2 Kyle Walker, 3 Ashley Cole, 4 Steven Gerrard (c), 5 Gary Cahill, 6 Phil Jagielka, 7 Theo Walcott (17 Tom Cleverley, 88), 8 Frank Lampard, 9 Rickie Lambert, 10 Jack Wilshere (20 Ashley Young, 68), 11 James Milner
Subs not used 12 Chris Smalling, 13 John Ruddy, 14 Leighton Baines, 15 Steven Caulker, 16 Michael Carrick, 18 Ross Barkley, 19 Jermain Defoe, 21 Raheem Sterling, 22 Andros Townsend, 23 Fraser Forster
Pedro Proença (POR)
Bertino Miranda (POR) and Tiago Trigo (POR)
Duarte Gomes (POR)