England captain Steven Gerrard admitted to feeling hard done-by after being sent off in his side’s lacklustre 1-1 draw against Ukraine, but insisted Roy Hodgson’s team were still on course to qualify for the World Cup.
Gerrard was shown two yellow cards by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir at Wembley on Tuesday night, with the second coming in the closing moments, and the Liverpool midfielder will now miss England’s next qualifier against San Marino in October.
Gerrard said: “I don’t think there was a bad tackle in the game. And the referee’s given seven yellow cards. It’s disappointing for me because it’s a red card — my first one in 98 caps.”
Manager Roy Hodgson felt that a point was the least they deserved. “The first 15 minutes we weren’t at our best. The next 75 minutes we dominated,” said Hodgson, whose side had beaten the same opponents 1-0 in the group stages at Euro 2012.
Oleg Blokhin’s Ukraine almost took an early lead when Oleg Gusev’s cross deflected off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and looped over Joe Hart before glancing off the far post.
Hodgson’s side needed a goal to quell Ukraine’s confident start and they thought they had it when Jermain Defoe cut in from the left to lash a powerful strike past Andriy Pyatov in the 10th minute. But Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir ruled out the goal, claiming Defoe had fouled Andriy Yarmolenko with an arm to the throat, even though the Ukraine forward seemed to exaggerate the minimal contact.
England’s misery deepened in the 39th minute as Ukraine took the lead in stunning style. After Joleon Lescott conceded possession with a careless pass, Ukraine Konoplyanka cut in from the left, took aim from 25 yards and fired a superb curling strike past Hart.
Hodgson then brought on Danny Welbeck in place of Cleverley and Daniel Sturridge for Oxlade-Chamberlain. It added some zest to England’s attack as the hosts kept plugging away. Five minutes from the end, Khacheridi conceded a penalty when he blocked Welbeck’s flick with his arm and Lampard stepped up to drive home the spot-kick.
However, there was still time for Gerrard to be dismissed for a rash lunge on Denys Garmash.
Eng vs Brazil in 2013
Meanwhile, the English Football Association (FA) yesterday announced that the national team will play friendlies against Brazil and Republic of Ireland in 2013 to launch the FA’s 150th anniversary.
Five-time World Cup winners Brazil will visit Wembley in February as part of a two-match arrangement that sees England heading to South America for a brief tour in June.
Prior to that, England will play the Republic of Ireland also at the Wembley Stadium, for the first time since their infamous fixture in 1995 was abandoned after a riot by England fans at Dublin’s Lansdowne Road.
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