What The Papers Say On England v Ukraine

England's qualifying campaign is 'on the rocks' after one win and a draw, apparently. Jesus. Others seem to be upset England didn't win the US Open or a gold medal...

Last Updated: 12/09/12 at 08:43 Post Comment

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'Make no mistake, though, the World Cup qualifying campaign is already on the rocks. Another dramatic hurtle through Eastern Europe is in store, starting in Poland next month, ahead of tricky trips to Montenegro and Ukraine.

'It is not going to be as simple as the kick-about which created false hope in Moldova last Friday. Against real opposition here, England reverted for an hour to the old type which casts them as sterile, careless football juveniles, out-witted by smarter, sharper, technically superior foreign opponents' - John Dillon in The Daily Express.

'Four days after his feast in Moldova, Roy Hodgson was starved of goals. On came Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge and there were not too many other attacking options on the bench for the England manager, so he changed the left back.

'The next step was to send out his assistant Ray Lewington to bark at them from the technical area. Somehow, something worked. Welbeck made an impact, generating a different threat, hitting a post and winning a penalty, scored by Frank Lampard, his 26th goal for England.

'Hodgson will have woken this morning to savour the point but he will know if 5-0 in Chisinau was an encouraging start to a new era, then here was a sobering reminder. Any plan to morph England into a fluid outfit, equipped to compete in the modern world where possession is nine tenths of the law, had better be a good one' - Matt Barlow in The Daily Mail.

'England left a stadium of many empty seats with the new faces appearing overburdened by the task of lifting the nation to where the Olympians and Paralympians who watched this game now reside.

'In the hallowed No 10 shirt, Tom Cleverley represented the hope that hidden among the 66 Premier League starters available to Roy Hodgson there is a core of fresh talents to grace a World Cup in Brazil.

'A tougher reality was presented to the young Manchester United midfielder here by Ukraine's blue-shirted sentries, who snatched the ball off him early and sent him beetling harmlessly around the pitch until he was replaced by Danny Welbeck, who was much more effective, after an hour. It was a reminder that potential is usually hurried along in England, through necessity: especially when an attacking midfielder is pressed into service in the playmaker's role' - Paul Hayward in The Daily Telegraph.

'For so much of their ordeal they struggled under the glow of a magnificent strike by Yevhen Konoplianka - and if they escaped in the end with a point it was one which they snatched like something they might have grasped in the wind.

'On a sultry night in Donetsk a few months ago Konoplianka was the junior partner in a firm which threatened to utterly undermine the first encouraging strides of Roy Hodgson's regime. Last night, though, he carried himself as the chairman of the Ukrainian board with a goal that was as exquisite as it was devastating. For England, it was not so much a wake-up call as a bolt from the sky. It punished sloppy defence and left the England manager with a new appreciation of the ambushes that might come on the road to Rio and the World Cup' - James Lawton in The Independent.

'It did not help that Ukraine, liberated from the pressure of being Euro 2012 co-hosts, were an awful lot better than they had been in June. They played neat, clever, counter-attacking football right from the start. A deflected cross looped over Joe Hart and hit the post in the fourth minute. Then Gerrard had to clear off the line after Tom Cleverley had lost the ball in midfield.

'Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose performances in Moldova had caused so much optimism, struggled to make an impact. Cleverley is a fine young talent but, in the first half, everything that could go wrong for him did go wrong.

'When Defoe headed a Gerrard cross back across goal to him, he had the goal at his mercy from six yards out. But instead of sidefooting the ball home, Cleverley could only steer it straight at Andriy Pyatov, who kicked it clear. Seven minutes before half-time, after Joleon Lescott had given the ball away carelessly, Ukraine took the lead. Yevgen Konoplyanka was allowed to drift inside on to his right foot and lash a 25-yard shot over Hart. This is supposed to be the Road to Rio we are travelling on. It felt more like the Road to Nowhere' - Oliver Holt in The Daily Mirror.

'And so the Roy Hodgson honeymoon is over. Decidedly so. Following this scrambled and painfully inept draw, courtesy of a late Frank Lampard penalty, it could be England are already looking at the play-offs - and a creaking backdoor entrance to Brazil 2014.

'Trust the England football team to bring our glorious summer of sport to a juddering halt. Trust them to extinguish both the Olympic flame and the Olympic spirit. Just 24 hours after the parade, they rained all over it. P****d all over it, in fact.

'Just 24 hours after Andy Murray had showed us what guts and glory is all about, our pampered Premier League prima donnas produced the sort of performance that we really hoped had been consigned to the dustbin of the past. Then, again, you can always rely on them' - Steven Howard in The Sun.

'The 5-0 victory over Moldova on Friday proved as beguiling as we had feared. England were disjointed last night, and lost Steven Gerrard to a second booking. Hodgson might not have been so eager to defend his captain had he seen an earlier stray use of the arm. And for all Gerrard's endeavour, for the fans to applaud a dismissed player seemed bizarre.

'One step forward, one back. Hodgson's altered system of 4-2-3-1 makes sense in trying to encourage a rotating midfield, but individuals fell far below what is required, so the system groaned against Ukraine's slick marauders.

'Reservations about Tom Cleverley's suitability for the No 10 role were heightened. The Manchester United midfield player had three good chances but they could not disguise how bereft he looked for long periods "in the hole".

'Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is highly regarded by Hodgson for his work in training but he still looks raw in international matches, taking on a man too many or over-running with a clumsy touch. The centre backs, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka, looked nervous, uncertain in possession and vulnerable to Ukraine's counter-attacks, although they would claim that there was scant protection. In short, England created a decent number of opportunities but this was a ragged performance overall, great gaps in midfield where there had been short combinations against Moldova' - Matt Dickinson in The Times.

'When England got the ball in the net, after 10 minutes, it was the work of Jermain Defoe, who took a clever through-ball from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, made ground in the inside-left channel and lashed a shot inside the near post. But he had fended off Andriy Yarmolenko with his arm, and the effort was disallowed.

'When three good chances fell to England later in the half it was Tom Cleverley who missed them all. Defoe, you felt, might have converted each of them. He is, after all, England's top scorer over the past four seasons, with nine goals to Frank Lampard's eight, six each for Peter Crouch and Ashley Young, and five apiece for Rooney and Gerrard.

'And yet his is not a name that has fans scrambling for tickets. Neither with club nor country has he made himself a fixture, despite expectations that he would emerge as the natural heir to Michael Owen. At the age of 29 he has become philosophical about his plight as a striker of last resort' - Richard Williams in The Guardian.

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