World Cup qualifier: England claim 0-0 draw with Ukraine to remain top of Group H
England remain top of World Cup qualifying Group H after claiming a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Ukraine in Kiev.
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @graemebailey
Last Updated: 11/09/13 8:16am
On a night of few chances it was the home side who perhaps edged it, but the England defence - brilliantly marshalled by Chelsea's Gary Cahill - stood firm.
Ukraine had the oustanding player on the night in the shape of winger Yevhen Konoplyanka and he went closest to opening the scoring with his free-kick with 20 minutes left but it deflected just inches wide off Phil Jagielka.
On his 100th appearance for his country, Frank Lampard had a real chance in the finalminute with England's best opportunity but he headed wide.
England now know that victory in their final two qualifying games with Montenegro and Poland, both at Wembley in October, will seal their place at the World Cup finals.
It was clear from before the kick-off that Ukraine were going to make it tough for England in every way possible - and they did.
Just 50 seconds had gone when England's number one Joe Hart chopped down Roman Zozulya while diving for a deflected cross, but luckily for England no penalty was given.
The penalty shout was the starting pistol for a helter skelter of an opening 10 minutes.
Buoyed by early pressure and Ukraine took aim at the England box. Hart flapped again as he failed to communicate with Cahill properly.
Ukraine camped out on the edge of the England box, probing the back four, but Cahill and Jagielka held strong.
Ukraine's drive forward left them vulnerable at the back and Theo Walcott exploited the space in a rare England attack when he raced into the box and tested Andriy Pyatov before Cahill sent a header over soon after.
Captain Steven Gerrard then misjudged a cross-field pass to allow Fedetskiy a free header at the back post but he wasted the opportunity and England breathed again.
Ukraine's early enthusiasm started to wane, allowing England more time on the ball, but the visitors failed to test Pyatov.
Gerrard sent a 25-yard curler just over and Lampard crashed a long-range free-kick well over.
The hosts bombed forward early on after the break through the crafty Konoplyanka. He found Fedetskiy at the back post with a curling cross but the defender's header was poor.
Konoplyanka fired another cross over to find Andriy Yarmolenko, but the forward tried to play a clever one-two with Gusiev that did not come off.
The Ukraine players demanded a penalty when Kyle Walker barged over Zozulya, but luckily for England the foul occurred just outside the box.
Fedetskiy had a brilliant chance to put Ukraine ahead when he jumped clear of his marker in the box but he miscued his header.
Then in added time and new centurion man Lampard had England's best chance of the night but he headed wide from eight yards as Ukraine failed to deal with Kyle Walker's long throw.
Ukraine joined the inactive Montenegro a point behind Roy Hodgson's team in Group H while Poland were two points further back after they eased past San Marino 5-1 - Piotr Zielinski netting twice for the visitors.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||2|
|3||Shots off Target||3|
|53.8||1st Half Poss.||46.2|
|53.8||2nd Half Poss.||46.2|