A late Frank Lampard penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw for England against Ukraine in a game at Wembley that threatened to crushingly kill off the British Summer of Sport.
Ukraine dominated the early stages, and Yevgeni Konoplianka's great long range goal in the first half seemed to have done enough to exact revenge for their 1-0 defeat against England during the European Championships in June.
But the introduction of Welbeck gave England a greater attacking threat, with Lampard converting the penalty after Yevgen Khacherdi handled in the box. The goal was Lampard’s 26th at international level, equalling that of former Three Lions midfielder Bryan Robson.
But there was still more drama as a second booking for captain Steven Gerard saw him sent off, meaning that he will be absent for England’s next qualifier against San Marino.
Roy Hodgson was encouraged by England’s resolve in the game and said they showed a lot of promise:
"I was very pleased with many of the aspects of the play tonight. I leave Wembley a lot more confident that we have a group of players who will take this England team to Rio."
Despite Hodgson’s optimism, the performance by England left a lot to be desired. Ukraine looked organised and comfortable on the ball, and when England did go searching for the equaliser appeared just as deadly on the counter-attack. The 5-0 win over Moldova was hardly a fair contest, but Ukraine are the kind of side England will face if they qualify for Brazil in 2014.
But this was a heavily depleted England side. First team regulars Wayne Rooney John Terry and Ashley Cole all missed the match through injury, with inexperienced youngsters Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struggling to fill the void. When those players return to fitness, England will be hoping to bounce back with strong performances in their next two international next month against San Marino and Poland.
Written and presented by Alfred Joyner