England showed patience, determination and character in abundance to overcome the fifth of their group six opponents at a packed Wembley stadium last night.
Fabio Capello’s near perfect reign at the helm continued, as England maintained a 100% record in world cup qualification, although question marks loom over the performance of the three lions.
It was clear from the off that patience would be a key factor. With Ukraine happy to sit back and soak up pressure, England had little to defend but also no great amount to offer up front either. The breakthrough came after 29 minutes, Peter Crouch justifying his selection with a great acrobatic finish.
Yet by the time the much maligned Andriy Shevchenko buried a bobbling, loose ball inside the England area in the 74th minute, England would need more than the rope Crouch had pulled out earlier on to drag themselves out of trouble.
David Beckham, who appears to have adopted the NFL role of punter – being brought onto the pitch purely to show his flair via set pieces – duly delivered a free-kick onto the head of Steven Gerrard, who nodded down for John Terry to score a captain’s winning goal five minutes from the end.
It wasn’t at all a fairytale result; England fans won’t be fooled that easily. Reborn Wayne Rooney flew into a needlessly violent challenge under frustration, and the team had a few spells where the simplest of passes seemed beyond the midfield quartet.
However, amidst all the doom and gloom and the negative reports, one thing is for certain: England got the result without playing their best football, and that, as the old cliché goes, is the sign of a great team. In the grand scheme of things, Fabio Capello has revolutionised the national team after this result.
Worrying? Not particularly.
Satisfying? You bet.