Posted: Tuesday September 11, 2012 8:22 PM

Lampard salvages draw for England against Ukraine

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WEMBLEY, England (AP) -England's football team found a way to quickly dissipate the nation's summer of sporting success and bring back the gloom.

After the feel-good factor the Olympics and Paralympics provided in London, came a dreary performance against Ukraine at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, with England only just avoiding a first competitive home loss in five years.

It took Frank Lampard to score his 26th England goal - from the penalty spot in the 87th minute after Yevhen Khacheridi handled the ball - to salvage a 1-1 draw in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

"We rely on him and he's done the job again for us tonight,'' captain Steven Gerrard said.

But any hope of grabbing a winner seemed to be thwarted a minute after Lampard's leveler when Gerrard became the first England captain to be sent off since David Beckham in 2005, when he received a second yellow card for a foul on Denys Garmash.

"These games are not easy and in the end getting a point is a good result considering we were 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go,'' Lampard said.

The crowd had high expectations for England after qualifying for Brazil started with a 5-0 rout of Moldova on Friday, but now the team has four points along with Montenegro at the top of Group H.

"I'm not prepared to say it wasn't a great performance,'' Hodgson said.

Yevhen Konoplianka had put Ukraine in front in the 39th, crisply curling the ball from 25 yards (meters) into the top corner of Joe Hart's goal in the team's first qualifier and first competitive match since Andriy Shevchenko's retirement.

"The young players we had in the squad were probably a little bit intimidated we were leading against England,'' Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said through a translator. "The England team has excelled in the second half and we have got tired.''

Injuries forced the hosts to cope without the experience of defenders John Terry and Ashley Cole, and striker Wayne Rooney.

"We are not totally reliant on the old guard,'' Hodgson said. "We do have young players coming through who can step up to the plate. (Danny) Welbeck, (Daniel) Sturridge and (Ryan) Bertrand made an impact.''

Ukraine was on a revenge mission after being contentiously eliminated by England from the European Championship it was co-hosting.

Marko Devic, who came on as a late substitute Tuesday, had a goal wrongly disallowed in Donetsk despite the ball crossing the line.

It was England's turn to feel aggrieved 84 days on.

Jermain Defoe believed he had put Roy Hodgson's side in front after 10 minutes only to be penalized for fouling Andriy Yarmolenko while cutting into the penalty area.

"It wasn't a foul at all so we're very disappointed with that,'' Gerrard said.

But all the early danger had come from the visitors.

Hart had been beaten when Oleg Gusiev's shot deflected off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but he was saved by the post.

And it required a combination of interventions by Gerrard and Hart to block Ruslan Rotan's shot after Ukraine broke forward when Tom Cleverley conceded possession cheaply on the halfway line.

When there were openings in front of goal, England was far too complacent, with Cleverley squandering two golden chances in the first half of his third England appearance.

The midfielder headed straight at goalkeeper Andri Piatov's feet from point-blank range after being set up by Defoe.

And in the search for an equalizer, there was not enough urgency from Cleverley when Lampard squared the ball with precision to him, making a sloppy connection with his heel and missing the target.

"We created certain problems in the first half for the England team they couldn't solve,'' Blokhin said.

After the break, England's forays were equally forlorn, with Defoe striking wide from distance and Danny Welbeck blasting the ball against the post, leaving a frustrated Hodgson holding his head in his hands.

But Lampard's late intervention spared England from a greater early setback in qualifying after reaching only the Euro 2012 quarterfinals.

"We went a goal down to a wonder goal but I was really pleased with the way we kept tidy, kept trying and didn't resort to any hopeful long balls,'' Hodgson said. "We kept playing through and creating chances and we were rewarded in the end ... because had we lost the game it would have been very harsh on us.''

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Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris

 
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