Football at the highest level is often decided by fractions and luck - and England had both on their side as they survived an anxious night against Ukraine to extend their unbeaten 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign to five games.
John Terry came to the rescue just when it looked like Fabio Capello's men were about to blot their copybook and even the battle-hardened Italian coach forced a smile when the referee blew for full-time.
"That was my most anxious game, yes, and when the referee blew the whistle I was very happy," said Capello. "I said we need to 'win ugly' sometimes and we did."
This was not a game for the purists, nor will it live long in the memory, but the end result means England retain a five-point advantage over Croatia in Group Six and can, just maybe, start thinking about packing their bags for South Africa.
On another night, Wayne Rooney, whose aggressive streak remains a contentious issue, might too have seen red for a rash challenge on opponent Oleksandr Aliyev just after the hour-mark.
Capello argued: "What happened? Nothing. It was a normal tackle. We need strong tackles sometimes."
It could be that the emotion of the night had got to Capello but there is an argument that, for all his talent, Rooney risks becoming a liability in tournament football when the stakes are even higher.
England switched off in the second half and substitute Andriy Shevchenko was deserving of his equaliser, but tired legs can lead to tired minds.
Capello reasoned that the draining effect of an arduous domestic campaign was showing signs of taking its toll on his players and, certainly, England will need to raise the bar to prove they can again cope with the world's best.
Nick Walsh writes features and betting previews for Betfair.