England 2, Ukraine 1: England salute saviour Terry

Reporter: by TONY BUGBY at Wembley
Date published: 02 April 2009

CAPTAIN John Terry came to the rescue last night to keep England firmly on track for a place in next year’s World Cup finals.

Just when it appeared England were about to surrender their 100-per-cent record in the qualification campaign, the Chelsea defender Terry conjured a late match-winning goal against Ukraine.

The sigh of relief was palpable — coach Fabio Capello’s clenched-fist salute at the final whistle underlined that — as England had made hard work of their fifth successive victory to remain top of group six.

After Peter Crouch put England ahead with his 15th international goal, England allowed Ukraine back into the game after the break, and former Chelsea reject Andriy Shevchenko looked like he had earned Ukraine a point.

Capello admitted it had been a tough game, but was happy to have collected 15 points from their first five group games.

He said: “In the second half we suffered, but I am happy with the passion and the character we showed.”

Capello thought his side looked tired in the second half and he hopes his players will be “fresher” when the next qualifiers take place in June.

The game started well for England.

Wayne Rooney, who had scored seven goals in his previous four appearances for England, was a player brimming with confidence.

This was underlined by a spectacular early overhead kick which dipped narrowly over the crossbar.

Steven Gerrard also fired agonisingly wide from a free kick and the only surprise was that it took England until just short of the half-hour mark to make the breakthrough.

Rooney won a corner from which Terry headed Gareth Barry’s kick back across the face of goal for Crouch to find the net with a remarkably athletic scissor kick for somebody who stands 6ft 7in tall.

Ukraine only threatened the England goal once in the opening period when a swerving, speculative 30-yard drive from captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk took a vicious kick off the turf and struck David James on the shoulder.

Rooney and David Beckham had decent chances, but England desperately needed a second goal as they lacked the spark they showed in the opening period.

And how the misses came back to haunt England as Ukraine equalised in the 74th minute.

Tymoshchuk’s free kick hit Glen Johnson and rebounded to substitute Shevchenko, who lashed home a shot from 10 yards.

But England displayed the grit and determination characterised by Capello’s style of management to dig themselves out of a hole.

Beckham’s free-kick was headed by Gerrard into the path of Terry, who hooked in the loose ball from six yards.

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