England vs. Ukraine: Complete Player Ratings for the Three Lions
In what didn’t turn out to be the walkover result that many were perhaps expecting, England managed to scrape a point from their Group H meeting with Ukraine after equalising in the dying stages of the encounter.
Ukraine was in a commanding position for much of the game and were it not for a Frank Lampard penalty, the Three Lions could be in a significantly weaker position than they find themselves in now.
Last week’s 5-0 win over Moldova will have been almost completely wiped from memory and all that will remain in the coming days is the memory of how the hosts were at times lucky to draw.
While there may be no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ we can still look at certain figures that didn’t perform as expected, and rate the England squad on their individual efforts.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
Despite not keeping a clean sheet, anyone that actually saw Yevhen Konoplyanka’s stunning opener will agree that Joe Hart could have done nothing about the shot.
Apart from the goal, the Manchester City stopper was largely unnecessary but stood firm when he was called upon, saving what little attempts that he needed to.
Hart, as ever, commanded his area well but could have loaned the likes of Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka a touch more positional direction, which is often a pitfall for younger ‘keepers.
Right Back: Glen Johnson
The Liverpool defender maintained his usual trend of marauding runs down the right flank but Glen Johnson left himself open to Ukraine counter-attacks on more than one occasion.
This is particularly unfortunate due to the fact that Andriy Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka were two of the brightest sparks from their side on the night.
However, Johnson was nevertheless one of England’s more hopeful attacking options and was a constant opening for James Milner to look for.
Centre-Back: Phil Jagielka
After being drafted in for the injured John Terry, Phil Jagielka will have been feeling quite a weight on his shoulders as he stepped onto the Wembley surface. And it told.
The defender has had an impressive start to the season but failed to translate that form to the international level and was caught out of pace on numerous occasions.
Joleon Lescott—a more permanent fixture in the England squad—was forced to bail out his defensive partner too many times.
Centre-Back: Joleon Lescott
By far the more comfortable of England’s two centre-backs, although that isn’t saying much at all.
Lescott was aerially imperious but was played around with some ease by an altogether more spirited Ukraine attack.
The Manchester City stalwart also gave the ball away in the build-up to Ukraine’s opening goal and will feel that he could have coped better with an opposition that really only had one striker.
Left-Back: Leighton Baines
In what was only his second starting cap in an England shirt, Baines showed at times just why it’s Ashley Cole that has reserved the national spot at left-back for so long.
The Evertonian made some encouraging runs down the left side and was frequently of help to Oxlade-Chamberlain, but lacked a certain quality in crossing ability.
Andriy Yarmolenko exposed the full-back on several occasions and Baines didn’t get the opportunity to show his talent from the set-piece.
He was replaced by Ryan Bertrand in the 73rd minute.
Centre Midfield: Steven Gerrard
After a commanding display against Moldova, Steven Gerrard was but one of several stars of last week to see a substantial drop in standards on Tuesday evening.
The Liverpool legend sat in a deep-lying playmaker position but failed to inject any real creative influence in the final third and was restricted to a link role.
Sent off in the last 10 minutes for a second yellow card, Gerrard looked surprisingly immature at times in a match that could have done with a more sophisticated touch.
Centre Midfield: Frank Lampard
Gerrard’s deep-lying partner, Frank Lampard was the second piece of a two-man central midfield that has an aggregate age of 33.
Like Gerrard, Lampard wasn’t permitted to express himself in a very attacking sense but was still the more influencing of the two.
Lampard struck home a difficult and daunting spot kick in the final 10 minutes of the game, keeping his nation in contention for top spot in the Group H standings.
Right Wing: James Milner
With Glen Johnson providing him back-up, James Milner really should have made more of an attacking impression than was the case on Tuesday.
Instead, the Manchester City midfielder spent more of his time providing cover for Johnson, who created just as many chances at times.
That said, Milner was typically hard-working and troubled the Ukrainian defence just about as much as anyone else.
Attacking Midfield: Tom Cleverley
Days after Roy Hodgson commented that the midfielder could play a similar role to that of Cesc Fabregas, Tom Cleverley failed to live up to expectations in fabulous manner.
The 23-year-old fluffed his lines on two glaring occasions and will be looked upon as the youngster that could have changed the result of this tie single-handedly.
Cleverley was subbed off for Danny Welbeck in the 63rd minute after an altogether unimpressive display, despite getting himself in the right positions.
Left Wing: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
At just 18 years of age, it’s understandable that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still taking his time in becoming the international star that many know he can be.
Roy Hodgson may have been justified when he said that “The Ox” offers too little in terms of defensive cover and while James Milner perhaps concentrated too much on providing cover, Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t do quite enough.
Daniel Sturridge came on for the Arsenal winger in the 69th minute, with Oxlade-Chamberlain seemingly exhausted.
Striker: Jermain Defoe
Omens appeared strong for Jermain Defoe after the striker saw a long-range goal disallowed in the early stages of the first half.
However, the Tottenham asset struggled to play in a No. 10 role and was at times flooded by a tall Ukrainian defence.
Defoe supplied Cleverley with the pass for which he made his first hashed effort and did well in a provisional aspect, despite his meagre frame.
Danny Welbeck: The man who forced Ukraine’s hand ball and the ensuing England penalty, Danny Welbeck can draw praise as a major contributor to his team’s point.
Daniel Sturridge: Sturridge coped much better than the man he replaced, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and delivered numerous dangerous crosses from the left, despite not getting a huge chance to impress.
Ryan Bertrand: England finished the game as the stronger outfit, leaving Bertrand with little to do in defence, but the utility linked up well with Chelsea teammate, Sturridge.