England Beats Ukraine to Record Fifth Consecutive Win

antony sansomCorrespondent IApril 1, 2009

LONDON - APRIL 01:  David Beckham of England gestures during the FIFA 2010 World Cup Group 6 Qualifying match between England and Ukraine at Wembley Stadium on April 1, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

This evening, England went into their world cup qualifier against the Ukrainian team, looking to keep there 100 percent winning streak going against one of their group rivals. 87,000 fans had turned up to see if England could win five consecutive World Cup qualifying games for the first time in their history.

England came into the game off of the back of an excellent 4-0 win against Slovakia, which saw England completely overrun the Slovakian team. But tonight’s opponents would not be such pushovers. But with England protecting a 100 percent record so far in the qualifying campaign, England team members themselves were brimming with confidence.

During the game with Slovakia, England had to replace three of the four selected strikers due to injury, leaving England to call up Darren Bent, who himself went down with an injury. Peter Crouch had recovered enough to make the starting line up alongside Rooney.

The Ukraine came into the game on a without tasting defeat since May 2008 against the Netherlands and the run has seen the Ukraine win 7 and draw one of there last 8 games and with a game in hand over England a win for the Ukraine could certainly boost there hopes of qualifying.

The Ukraine also came into the game having failed to score against England in its last two attempts, and with Milan favourite Andrei Shevchenko left on the bench, England’s defenders must have breathed a little sigh of relief. If Shevchenko did make an appearance, he would collect a record 86th cap for his country.

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The game kicked off to a much slower pace, with both sides sparring and looking to probe each other's sides, looking for weaknesses.

The first half chance fell to Rooney, who pulled off a stunning over head from a Steven Gerrard cross, which ended up sailing just over the cross bar.

Gerrard was next to try his luck after Rooney was brought down on the edge of the area. Gerrard stepped up to flash the ball wide off Ukraine’s far post.

At 25 minutes, Rooney and Gerrard linked up well on the left hand side, with Rooney swinging a cross in for Lennon to cushion the ball Lampard to blast over.

But at 29 minutes, England broke the deadlock from an in-swing corner from the left hand side, which saw Terry heading the ball back to an unmarked Peter Crouch, to volley into the roof off the net.

Ukraine then had their first real chance with Tymoschuk's 30 yard strike, which seemed to cause David James problems, as the ball was swerving in the air and David James pushed the ball clear with his shoulder.

Before the end of the half, Rooney and Gerrard combined well again, for Gerrard to get away with a 25-yard shot, which ended up in the arms of the Ukrainian keeper.

The second half started with no changes from either side.

The game started off a lot more open than the first, with both sides trying to get the ball forward as quickly as possible.

With England starting to boss the game, and with the Ukraine creating very few chances they decided at 54 minutes to bring on the Ukrainian legend Andrei Shevchenko. The 2004 World Footballer of the year has played very little football since his loan switch from Chelsea to Milan. Only time would tell whether he could make an impact on the game.

At 57 minutes, LA Galaxy's David Beckham came on to gain his 110 cap in an England shirt.

The game was being pushed back onto the Ukrainian team. David Beckham had his first chance for England by drifting a 25-yard free kick over the bar. Rooney also dived in with a rash challenge on a Ukrainian player, but the ref adjudged Rooney won the ball.

At 71 minutes, a push by John Terry on club mate Shevchenko led to a free quick, which was whipped quickly and the ball fell to Shevchenko to make the game 1-1, as he scored his 40th international goal in 86 appearances for his country. The goal was against the run of play

England seemed to be spurred on and with Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney taking the game to Ukraine. But could England turn there pressure into goals. England decided to make a change and take off goal scorer Peter Crouch and replace him with Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Rooney was now playing upfront with Steven Gerrard playing just behind in a free role. The Ukraine decided to protect the point by playing a slightly more defensive formation.

At 84 minutes, a David Beckham free kick was whipped in for Gerrard, to head back across the goal for John Terry to make amends for his error and make it England 2, Ukraine 1.

At 90 minutes, the Ukraine won a free kick 30 yards from the goal which Shevchenko managed to get on target but couldn’t beat with David James. Lampard also tested the Ukrainian keeper with a 30-yard rasping shot which the keeper held.

The game petered out with England frustrating their opponents by keeping hold of the ball. England made it five wins out of five, and with Croatia beating Andorra 2-0, the pressure is now on the Ukrainian team to qualify.

England plays Andorra at Wembley in June, they have certainly put themselves in pole position to qualify for South Africa 2010.

England’s opponents: last Saturday, Slovakia beat local rivals the Czech Republic 2-1 in Prague.


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