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England hold firm in Ukraine

Mon Sep 11

England held their nerve to secure a point in Ukraine and ensure they hold on to top spot in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group H. 

Victory for Mykhailo Fomenko's hosts would have made it five in a row in the section and moved them two points clear of the Three Lions with two to play. However, Roy Hodgson's side kept the home side goalless to secure a one-point lead in the group, meaning their fate is in their own hands ahead of final games against Montenegro and Poland at Wembley. 

England started positively and Theo Walcott immediately threatened, the Arsenal FC winger stealing in behind left-back Viacheslav Shevchuk, but Andriy Piatov rushed from his line to smother his poked shot.

Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplianka probed down the flanks for the hosts but their best opening of the first period came when Edmar picked out the run of Artem Fedetsky on the right but Gary Cahill rushed back to head clear the right-back's first-time cross with Roman Zozulia ready to head in the opener.

England captain Steven Gerrard looped an effort from range over the bar and Frank Lampard, on the occasion of his 100th cap, saw a free-kick deflect off target as England began to control proceedings before the break.

Gerrard arrived to save the day for his side after the interval as a last-ditch intervention cut out Zozulia's neat touch which appeared to have slipped Oleh Husiev free, but apart from that near opening things were very tight. 

Neither midfield could assert their dominance, with the respective strike forces left starved of opportunity, until a darting Zozulia was brought down by Kyle Walker and Konoplianka's resulting free-kick deflected a fraction wide. Fedetsky headed straight into the arms of Joe Hart when completely free at a corner as England rode their luck, but the visitors held out to claim what could be a vital point. 

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