Roy Hodgson confident England will reach 2014 World Cup

 

England boss Roy Hodgson says he is more confident that his side will reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after the 1-1 home draw with Ukraine.

Frank Lampard's late penalty salvaged a point for an understrength England to leave them second in Group H.

Despite a lacklustre display, Hodgson said: "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."

Margin for error narrows

After the stroll of the 5-0 win in Moldova this was a World Cup reality check, the cold realisation that the road to Rio may be littered with more hazards than were first apparent

England were without a number of regulars, including forwards Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll, Ashley Young and Theo Walcott and the defensive duo of John Terry and Ashley Cole.

Hodgson was forced to call up midfield trio Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore - none of whom have represented their country at senior level before - and selected inexperienced duo Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to face Ukraine.

"At the end of the day, we have had two youngsters starting the game. They have come off and we have replaced them with three other youngsters," continued the England boss.

"We have a whole team off the field who, under normal circumstances, would have been competing for places."

After starting their World Cup qualifying campaign with a convincing 5-0 win in Moldova last Friday, there were high hopes England would continue with a victory over Ukraine, the team many believe will provide the main competition in the group.

"For England to get a point is a real bonus. When you don't play very well and pinch a draw, you begin to think it could just turn out to be a very good result. They had some outstanding players missing but I am not sure even with Terry, Rooney, Walcott and whoever else would have made any difference. We saw from the way Ukraine celebrated that they think this is a big result but they could have had so much more."

However, Hodgson's side lacked the fluency they demonstrated in Chisinau and looked to be staring at defeat following Yevgeni Konoplianka's superb 25-yard opening goal in the first half.

They had a Jermain Defoe goal ruled out for a foul - he was adjudged to have delivered an illegal hand-off to Andriy Yarmolenko - but Lampard rescued a point when he converted from the spot after Yevgeni Khacheridi handled in the area.

As England pushed for a winner, Steven Gerrard was sent off for a second bookable offence.

"I'll concede that the first 10, maybe even the first 15 minutes, we weren't at our best. We started slowly," said Hodgson. "But the next 75 minutes, we dominated the game totally.

"I thought we controlled the game, we kept playing, we kept probing, we kept trying to play our football.

"We created chances throughout the game, we had a goal disallowed, we hit the post three times and in the end we got an equaliser.

England's notable absentees

  • Defenders: John Terry, Ashley Cole, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones
  • Midfielders: Scott Parker, Jack Wilshere
  • Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young, Andy Carroll

"You could have argued we might have had more because some of the chances we missed were good chances.

"I suppose it is two points dropped because you want to win your home games. But the fact is we played against a good Ukraine team.

"They had the benefit of a super goal that put them on the front foot which meant our task became harder."

Hodgson was also critical of referee Cuneyt Cakir, who awarded six yellow cards to England players, two of which resulted in Gerrard's dismissal.

"We didn't have a lot of help out there tonight," said the England boss. "We had five bookings and a sending off, which is enormous, considering the way we played. I hardly saw a foul in the game."

Meanwhile, Gerrard hailed England's character to battle back for a draw against the team he believes will be his side's main threat to top spot in the group.

England players on 'hard-fought' Ukraine draw

"I think having gone a goal down we showed fantastic character and determination. We kept probing for the openings and when the subs came on we created more chances," the England captain said.

"It was disappointing for me because it's a red card and my first in 98 caps. We play San Marino next so I'm sure the boys can do the job without me and I'll be back for Poland."

Defoe was upbeat despite his disallowed effort as the striker believes the squad are showing signs of a promising future.

"It does not look like we're going to get beat, the way we're playing and the spirit of the team. There is a good mix now as the youngsters have come in and done well," he said.

England's next World Cup qualifier in Group H is on 12 October when they host San Marino, beaten 6-0 at home by Montenegro on Tuesday.

Four days later, England travel to Poland, who beat Moldova 2-0 after drawing 1-1 with Montenegro last Friday.