12th of September 2012 Author: Johnny Karp
England boss Roy Hodgson says he is more confident that his side will reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after the disappointing 1-1 home draw with Ukraine. England came very close to losing the match but Frank Lampard's late penalty rescued a point for England to leave them second in qualification Group H. Despite the unconvincing 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."
However, England do have an excuse as they played without a number of team regulars, including Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll, Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, John Terry and Ashley Cole. Hodgson was forced to call up midfielders Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore, all uncapped at a senior level, and fielded 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," the England boss said. "We have a whole team off the field who, under normal circumstances, would have been competing for places." England started their World Cup qualifying campaign with a convincing 5-0 win in Moldova last Friday but they failed to continue with a victory over Ukraine, probably the main rival in the group.
Yevgeni Konoplianka's superb 25-yard opening goal in the first half gave Ukraine the lead and the visitors held on until very late in the game when Chelsea's Lampard rescued a point when he converted from the penalty spot after Yevgeni Khacheridi handled the ball inside the area. England tried to push for a winner butSteven Gerrard was sent off for a second bookable offence and the game ended all square.
"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. 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."
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.
The bookies at Bet365 still see England as favourites to reach World Cup 2014, offering outright odds of 1/6.
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