Young Lions held again
Friday, 24 July, 2009
Henri Lansbury and Dan Gosling scored as England U19s were held to another draw.
Nicholas Veevers at the Olimpiyskyi Stadium, Donetsk
England had to settle for a second successive point in the European U19 Championship finals on Friday evening, when they played out a tough and fierce 2-2 draw with host nation Ukraine in Donetsk.
It was a game that really could've gone either way, but the Young Lions showed their grit and character to see off some serious pressure in the second half and also come from behind to take a second half lead after conceding an early goal.
Ukraine hit back with an equaliser though and the result was perhaps fair in the end, with England also having their chances to win and it now means they will have to wait until Monday's final Group A game with Slovenia before finding out if they are to reach the semi-final.
Ukraine made the perfect start and were ahead within two minutes after starting the game quickly. A move down the right saw Dmytro Ieremenko cut a ball back from the by-line and when striker Sergii Shevchuk knocked it back to the edge of the area, skipper Kyrylo Petrov made no mistake by placing a low shot into the bottom corner.
The lead could’ve been doubled in the 10th minute when Matthew James’ ball across defence was intercepted by Denys Garmash who then set up Dmytro Korkishko, but his shot was well saved by Jason Steele as England looked to get themselves going.
They did just that though, playing some neat and incisive football in the midfield and the game turned back England’s way in the 24th minute, when a Ukrainian goalkeeper Igor Levcheko dallied with a back pass allowing Danny Welbeck the chance to nick it off him, before Levchenko hauled down the forward
A penalty was awarded, Levchenko was booked by the referee and Henri Lansbury stepped up to place a low shot into the bottom corner of the goal and bring the Young Lions back level.
It was just what England had needed after battling their way back into the game and enjoying more possession as well as looking more dangerous in the final third.
Nile Ranger then got on the end of a Gavin Hoyte cross from the right on the half hour mark, but under tight scrutiny from his marker, his glanced header went just over.
A foul on Welbeck on the left then provided Joe Mattock with a chance to cross, with Ranger again proving the target but again, the home side desperately scrambled clear.
Steele was forced into a good save under pressure in the 42nd minute, when Shevchuk curled a free-kick into the danger zone from the left, but the skipper was equal to it and palmed it away and behind for a corner.
With half time approaching, Matthew Briggs embarked on a purposeful run forward form the back and skipped past three Ukrainian challenges in the process before seeing his powerful low shot well saved by Levchenko.
Just over five minutes after the re-start and England were in front. A well thought out and quickly taken free-kick from Danny Drinkwater 30 yards from goal picked out the run of Dan Gosling, and he showed great composure to fire home a low shot from inside the area and put the Lions ahead.
England went looking for a third goal and were unfortunate not to get one in the 58th minute. A fine run forward from Mattock led to the initial opening, when he picked out Gosling on the left whose centre almost led to a chance for Welbeck, at the expense of a corner.
When Ukraine didn’t fully clear Lansbury’s flag kick, the ball dropped to Drinkwater in the area. He managed to turn a shot at goal, only for a combination of Levchenko and Ieremenko to scramble it away from danger.
The home side found themselves back level in the 61st minute though, when it was England’s turn to fully clear a corner and when Bogdan Butko played a delicious cross into the area, Petrov was there again to head home and send the crowd into raptures.
With the support galvanised, Ukraine were looking for a third and they almost had it when Petrov sent a shot sizzling narrowly over the bar. series of dangerous corners from Korkishko followed, with England being forced to defend for their lives to stay on level terms.
They had Steele to thank for that too, as he made a fine double save in the 68th minute, first to deny Ieremenko’s angled shot and then the follow up from substitute Vitally Kaverin.
Steele had to be alert again in the 76th minute when Korkishko tried his luck with a low left footer after cutting in from the right, but again the Middlesbrough man was equal to it and saved comfortably to his left.
With the game into the last ten minutes, Mattock tested Levchenko with a well placed free-kick, but the home keeper was well placed to make a simple save.
A tiring England were almost caught out by a quickly taken throw-in on the left, but substitute Artur Kamoza fired into the side netting from a tight angle, but the Young Lions were really let off the hook by Korkishko who missed the best chance of the game when he fired wide after breaking clear from just inside the England half.
That should have wrapped it up for Ukraine, but they too had to settle for a point and it will all have to be decided on Monday as to who reaches the last four with England knowing that victory over Slovenia will see them into the semi-finals.