Fabio Capello's England weren't on top of their game this evening but, as the cliche goes, it's the sign of a good team when they don't play well but get the win.
Ukraine, though not carrying much of a goal threat, were the technically better team, and obviously comfortable in possession. They started well, and this put England off their stride, as they continually gave the ball away cheaply. Ashley Cole in particular was guilty of wasting possession with a series of aimless straight balls into the box, but he wasn't the only one. Barry had a poor game by his standards, and Gerard became increasingly peripheral the longer the game went on.
Capello made a mistake in taking off the dangerous Aaron Lennon in only the 55th minute. Though Beckham clearly brought a better quality end product to the table, England looked less of a threat without pace on th right flank. This meant that when Ukraine equalised, Capello was forced to reshuffle the team more than he would have liked, putting Rooney up front (arguably a waste of his talents) and playing Wright-Phillips on the left.
Rooney was our best player again, though he was fortunate to stay on the pitch. One of a number of bizarre decisions by the referee was in not awarding even a free kick when Rooney performed his usual trick of getting the ball but going through a good three feet to deliberately take out the man as well (a trick that Lee Catermole has honed to perfection this season). Lampard was our best midfielder, and Crouch took his goal well. David James had an evening to forget, and you could sense the equaliser coming as the introduction of Beckham had the opposite of it's intended effect. The tempo was lost, England became sloppy, and although you could argue Ukraine scarcely deserved a goal, it wasn't that much of a surprise when it came.
However, two qualities England have displayed consistently under Capello is hard-work and resilience. As usual we closed down well and forced the opposition into mistakes. It was no surprise that the winner came from a set piece, as we'd looked dangerous from dead balls all evening.
So not a vintage display, and the manager will, I'm sure, have berated certain players for wasting so much possession. However this evning's result means we're almost in South Africa, so that's clearly the huge positive to take from the game.