Toothless England edge closer to Brazil

Hodgson concedes Three Lions missed quality of Rooney and Sturridge


ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson bemoaned his squad’s lack of firepower after a goalless draw in Kiev left them top of Group H, but just a point clear of both Ukraine and Montenegro with two matches to go of their World Cup qualifying campaign.

With Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge missing through injury, plus Danny Welbeck suspended, Hodgson’s options were severely limited and consequently the former Fulham boss was “more than satisfied” with the point, plus three earned against Moldova last Friday.

However, Hodgson could not help but ponder what might have been had there been a full compliment of forwards at his disposal.

“We had total control but perhaps didn’t quite have the quality we needed to in front of goal,” he said. “We didn’t ride our luck defensively, we were very good, and had we had a Wayne Rooney or a Daniel Sturridge available we might have got the goal.

“We lost seven players from our original squad and were left with several players who aren’t used to this level of football and this pressure.

“So we should be more than satisfied with the results from the two games.”

England were restricted to just a handful of opportunities, the best falling to Frank Lampard, earning his 100th international cap, in second-half stoppage time, but the midfielder could only head wide from 10 yards.

However, Hodgson felt the impetus was on Ukraine to chase the victory and conceded a flurry of late positive changes could have had disastrous consequences for his side.

“We weren’t adventurous but it was for them to be not us,” he said. “Had we thrown caution to the wind and been on the end of a 1-0 defeat, which would have virtually ended our hopes of topping the group, we wouldn’t have got any thanks for that. It was probably a fair result.”

In a high tempo start from the hosts striker Roman Zozulya had a vociferous penalty appeal waved away after he went down under a challenge from goalkeeper Joe Hart.

But the visitors weathered the storm and twice went close through captain Steven Gerrard from 25 yards, while a Lampard free-kick was deflected wide.

In a cagey second half, Yevgeni Konoplienka saw a free-kick fizz inches wide with the aid of a deflection from defender Phil Jagielka as Ukraine got their first real sight of goal on 72 minutes.

And moments later defender Artem Fedetskiy was left unmarked at Konoplienka’s corner, but could only head into the arms of a grateful Hart from six yards.

Winger Theo Walcott clipped a Kyle Walker cross wide across goal late on, yet there was still time for a long throw from the Tottenham right-back to bounce through to Lampard inside the penalty area, but England’s latest centurion headed wide.