England V Ukraine
1 Apr 2009
England 2 - 1 Ukraine
Attendance: 87, 548
England continued their perfect record in World Cup qualifying, when a late goal from John Terry sealed a hard fought victory over a determined Ukraine side.
It looked as though Fabio Capello's men might have to settle for just a point after substitute Andriy Shevchenko had cancelled out Peter Crouch's first half opener with just over 15 minutes remaining.
The Three Lions weren't to be denied though and showed their character to bounce back from that blow and make sure they collected all three points as opposed to just one.
The first half belonged exclusively to England and Wayne Rooney got the crowd crackling with the first moment of brilliance. Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole interchanged beautifully down the left flank, the Liverpool midfielder slipping the ball through Grygoriy Yarmash's legs before finding Rooney inside the area who leapt acrobatically but his overhead kick landed on the roof of the net.
Three minutes later and Rooney fed Aaron Lennon on the opposite side and his dangerous cross was cleared by Taras Mykhalyk with England's latest member of the 50 cap club lurking.
Rooney then created another opening by bursting through the Ukraine defence and winning a free kick on the edge of the penalty box. Mykhalyk was deceived, and cautioned as a result, but Gerrard's curving effort went narrowly wide of the post.
England were in the ascendancy and shortly before the half hour mark they took a deserved lead. Peter Crouch got the goal with a close range volley of real quality having reacted quickest to Terry's knock down from a Frank Lampard corner.
The Portsmouth forward maintained his tremendous scoring record with another crucial effort, and as he was famously asked by Smithy for Comic Relief, he celebrated by bringing on the rope.
Rooney looked on fire as he constantly demanded the ball and sought to bring other players into the game. Mments after England took the lead Rooney swept the ball cross field to Lennon, then met the low cross only to volley over the bar.
England did not have it all their own way though as Ukraine troubled David James from distance on twop separate occasions before the interval but some quick thinking from the Portsmouth stopper denied the visitors an equaliser before the break.
Ukraine failed to make any advance on the Three Lions defence in the early period of the second half and boss Alexei Mykhaylychenko promptly replaced Andriy Voronin with former Chelsea forward Shevchenko, and Nazarenko came on for Valyayev.
England were still doing most of the probing though and Rooney was fouled once more on the edge of the area, and with David Beckham having entered the fray in place of Lennon, it looked within his range. The most capped outfield player in England's history looked poised but his effort was marginally high and threatened only the top of the net.
Wembley was shocked into silence with only 16 minutes remaining though, as Ukraine snatched an equaliser from the most obvious source in Shevchenko. The Milan poacher found a pocket of space from a wide free kick from Oleksandr Aliiev and stabbed it high into the net to level the scores.
England were shellshocked having had the majority of play in the second period, but soon sprung back into action with Beckham guiding a dangerous ball from deep that evaded the Ukraine defence for Rooney to pop up at the back post, but he fired his effort wide.
Shaun Wright-Phillips replaced Crouch as Gerrard moved into a more central role and England looked to find a goal to give them another three points in Group Six.
Step forward the captain and Terry was the man to deliver as he finished a Beckham cross from close range after a Gerrard knock down at the far post.
The goal proved enough, as England comfortably played out the four minutes of added time to make it five wins out of five in Group Six.