Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughReal positives to be taken from Ukraine draw - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Real positives to be taken from Ukraine draw - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Real positives to be taken from Ukraine draw

On the face of it, after a 1-1 draw at home against Ukraine, England shouldn’t have too many positives to take out of the game.

Without coming over as the typical England fan and thinking we should win every game we play, home fixtures in qualifying should be won if you have any intentions of making it through to the finals stage.

So, in this regard, England should feel disappointed. However, the performance itself should be praised.

Ukraine were restricted to few clear cut chances outside of the semi-dangerous breaks towards the end of the game when England were committed to all-out attack and their goal itself was simply a superb strike.

But an important point to be taken with England’s performance comes from the last 30 minutes or so when the team put together football that combined the defensive solidity evident throughout Roy Hodgson’s reign with some incisive and easy-on-the-eye attacking play.

Indeed England carved out enough chances to win the game and would have done so were it not for some wasteful finishing.

The first half performance was far from outstanding but, aside from the goal itself, England looked very solid in defence and unlikely to fall apart; a trait consistent with the Hodgson reign, a period of time in which England have still yet to lose inside 90 minutes.

However, in the first half, England lacked consistent incisive play in the final third but still carved out two good chances for Tom Cleverley and a harshly disallowed goal from Jermaine Defoe with Steven Gerrard putting in his now customary influential performance pulling the strings and creating the majority of the chances.

With half an hour to go, Hodgson changed his system by bringing on Danny Wellbeck and Daniel Sturridge which resulted in greater attacking flair but still retaining the width needed to stretch Ukraine.

Furthermore, he didn’t go entirely for broke as he brought on Ryan Bertrand for Leighton Baines (a move which was ultimately vindicated in Bertrand’s contribution in winning the penalty) rather than sacrificing the solidity and attacking influence provided by Gerrard, Frank Lampard and James Milner in the centre of the park.

What the three midfielders and Wellbeck, Sturridge and Jermaine Defoe provided was incisive, short passing football that looked set to cut open Ukraine often and, again but for more wasteful finishing, could have seen England win the game instead of relying on a penalty to secure a point.

Bertrand and Glen Johnson also helped in this regard with probing runs and offering themselves up as the spare men with only occasional risk from counter attacking.

This attacking incisiveness, very much in it’s infancy in the Hodgson reign who has rightly concentrated on defensive solidity so far, all came without players of the calibre of Wayne Rooney, Darren Bent and Theo Walcott to name but three which bodes well for Hodgson.

Whilst the result wasn’t ideal at the start of the game, it was a point earned for England and the fact that the intelligent, game-changing substitutions made by Hodgson were all young players with a big future for England will quietly please him in the week he extolled the values of youth in the national squad set up.

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