England managed to salvage a point on Tuesday evening against a spirited Ukraine side at Wembley. The visitors took the lead in the 38th minute courtesy of a sublime strike from Yevhen Konoplianka, and although England went in search of an equaliser, nothing was falling for them. Tom Cleverley of Manchester United was guilty of missing two clear cut chances, while Jermain Defoe had a perfectly legitimate ‘goal’ ruled out for a foul on Andriy Yarmolenko, who fell to the floor rather theatrically. Yarmolenko himself was a threat throughout, grazing the post in the fourth minute with Joe Hart beaten, and was inches away from getting a boot on a deflection that would have put the Ukraine ahead.
England were extremely fortunate to escape with a point. The passing was woeful, and they couldn’t hit a barn door with a canoe. Frank Lampard’s penalty a couple of minutes from time could not hide the dismal display, especially after captain Steven Gerrard was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Towards the end of the game, England finally decided that they wanted something out of the game and started to rally round and full on attack Ukraine. Danny Welbeck hit the post, while Liverpool’s Glen Johnson forced a fingertip save from ‘keeper Andriy Piatov that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir gave as a goal kick.
The game had been marred by bad decisions on behalf of the referee, notably Defoe’s ruled out goal, which Ukraine fans might see as justice for their goal which was disallowed in Donetsk during the summer’s European Championship in Donetsk. Referee Cakir’s decision for the penalty was a correct one, with Yevgen Khacheridi handling in the box. Lampard buried the spot kick in typical fashion, and snatched a vital, if undeserved point on the continuing race to qualify for the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in 2014.