Roy Hodgson happy with England's “great performance” despite home draw, as he looks to shelter future stars

A draw at Wembley against a side 33 places below England in the FIFA world rankings is rarely perceived as a positive result, but manager Roy Hodgson remained bullish in the post match press conference, insisting it was actually a great performance.

Ukraine appeared to have the better of the game in the early stages though and a 39th minute wonder strike from Ievgenii Konoplianka’s was no more than the visitors deserved for their confident and fluid attacking first-half display.

With the crowd becoming increasingly impatient and exasperated as the game wore on, England needed a Frank Lampard penalty three minutes from time to salvage a point against their main rivals for the top spot in Group H.

However, the England manager was defiant in his belief that his side acquitted themselves in a positive manner.

“I suppose you’re always relived when you’re losing 1-0 and you get a late equaliser, but I’m not so certain I’m prepared to accept it wasn’t a great performance” he said.

“I mean I suppose all games that you don’t win at home people will say it’s not a great performance but I didn’t think we did that badly – I thought we kept at our task.

“The first 10 minutes we started very poorly, but once we got into our stride I thought we had quite good control over the game. We go a goal down to a wonder strike and of course from that time onwards against a good Ukrainian team you’re always going to be up against it.

“But I was very pleased how we kept probing; playing our football; kept taking the game to them and kept creating chances so I think in the end we fully deserved our equaliser.”

After the break England continued to search for a goal that they had cruelly been denied by the referees whistle in the first half, but Andrii Piatov was rarely troubled between the sticks.

When asked whether he thought he was tested enough, Hodgson was quick to reply.

“The post was though wasn’t it?

”And we scored a goal and the post was mad to work a few times and there was quite a few balls across the penalty area, so in actual fact I thought the dangerous moments, both for the Ukraine and us didn’t necessarily involve the goalkeeper.

“But they certainly had us coaches on the benches with our hearts in [our] mouths, as the balls fly across the six yard box. We had about three, four, maybe five of them and the Ukraine had a couple themselves.”

Notably absent from the starting line-up on Tuesday were Wayne Rooney with a gash to his leg and John Terry, who picked up an injury in Chisnau on Friday.

Forced into change, Hodgson drafted Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore into a squad already tinged with youth, and it was the development of his young squad that has seemingly given the manager the most heart.

“We did miss a lot of players today, but I’ve got to say the ones that came in, in particular the three youngsters who came in at the end and the youngsters we had in from the start, I thought they acquitted themselves well.

“And I think it’s good for us in the future that we see that we aren’t totally reliant on the so called ‘old guard’ and we do have young players coming through who can step up to the plate.”

One of his younger charges Tom Cleverley was guilty of missing a couple of good chances, but Hodgson was hesitant to criticise him.

“It’s always going to be tough for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cleverley after the excellent Friday night performance. The spotlight’s on them and of course Tom misses a couple of quite good chances in the first half, but I still think those two players acquitted themselves fine in the game”

One element that influenced the match was out of the hosts hands though, and instead in the referees.

“I’m going to react and say there were far too many yellow cards for the fouls that were committed and we certainly got too many.

“I think Steven Gerrard is extremely unlucky to be sent-off because I don’t think that the two fouls he was adjudged to have committed were worthy of that sanction.”

England’s next qualifying game is against San Marino at Wembley on Friday 12 October.

Tags: England, Roy Hodgson, World Cup

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