Monday, September 17, 2012

No panic after England draw


 England's 1-1 draw with Ukraine in their second World Cup qualifier has been criticised by the press but the result may well be looked back on as being a decent point against a side that could join them in Brazil in 2014.

Following the 5-0 hammering of Moldova in their Group H opener, punters betting on sports had expected Roy Hodgson's side to continue in a similar vein and brush aside the Euro 2012 co-hosts as well.

However, it was clear from the first few minutes at Wembley that Oleg Blokhin's side were a totally different proposition and, in the end, a draw was all England deserved from an overall fairly even game.

Hodgson said afterwards that he felt like his side had performed better this week than they did when beating the same opponents 1-0 in the summer and, such was the improvement from Ukraine, it is hard to disagree with him.

But still England's performance has been criticised by some who believe the draw embarrassed the Three Lions and they now predict a difficult qualification campaign awaits.

That is unlikely to be the reality, though, as Hodgson's side remain very much a work in progress and they will probably endure a few more uncomfortable live scores on the long road ahead to Brazil.

Credit must go to Ukraine for the way they tried to take the game to their supposed superior hosts and they were the better side when in front at the break. But credit must also be given to England for the way they responded in the second 45 minutes and their late rally ensured they deservedly picked up a point.

It may not look great on paper but, taking into account the three remaining sides England still have to play are Montenegro, San Marino and Poland, it cannot be seen as a major setback yet.

It remains too early to judge Hodgson's England and there will be ups and downs to come but one slightly disappointing defeat, if not performance, does not put their World Cup qualification in jeopardy.

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