SKIPPER Steven Gerrard was sent off as Frank Lampard’s 86th-minute penalty spared England’s blushes at Wembley last night.
Gerrard was red-carded two minutes from the end of a poor display from Roy Hodgson’s men in their World Cup qualifier with Ukraine.
The hosts were saved when Yevhen Khacherdi blocked Danny Welbeck’s flick with his arm, allowing Lampard to drive home from the spot to earn England a point. Gerrard’s dismissal followed shortly afterwards for a second yellow card.
The Liverpool man becomes the 14th England player to be sent off, although the damage is not too bad as he only misses the visit of San Marino next month.
Ukraine will be cursing a missed opportunity, though.
Already nursing a sense of grievance after having a perfectly good goal ruled out when the two sides met at Euro 2012, Oleg Blokhin’s men came agonisingly close to what would have been a deserved victory.
In Yevgen Konoplianka, they had not only the game’s star performer but also scorer of a goal worthy of winning any match.
And, while defeat was avoided, clearly there is so much work ahead of Hodgson and his team if they are to reach Brazil 2014.
Lampard insisted England pulled out a “good result” after firing home the late penalty. He said: “These games are not easy and in the end getting a point is a good result considering we were 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go. “At the start of the game you obviously want to win it but when you consider the circumstances we had a goal disallowed, we hit the post, so in the end we showed great character to get a point.”
Hodgson was critical of the referee’s performance, in particular the two yellow cards that saw Gerrard sent off for the first time in his international career.
He said some of the decisions were harsh: “Some of the yellow cards were a bit hard to take and if Steven Gerrard committed two fouls in the game I’d be surprised.
“We kept playing through and creating chances and we were rewarded in the end by getting the equaliser and we might even have got a winner.”