Guardian: Five talking points from World Cup qualifier between England and Ukraine

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Sept. 12, 2012, 8:42 a.m. | Sports — by Guardian

Ukraine's Levgenii Konoplianka, center, competes with England's Steven Gerrard, right, and James Milner during their group H 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at Wembley Stadium, London, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.
© AP

Roy Hodgson's honeymoon is over and Tom Cleverley was given a rude reality check after missing a number of chances.

Uncomfortable display means honeymoon is over

England remain unbeaten, penalty shoot-outs aside, under Roy Hodgson, but the honeymoon period is clearly over. This occasion offered up many of the more sobering aspects of life in charge of the national team: a red card for the captain, Steven Gerrard, briefly announced as the sponsors' man of the match; a Jermain Defoe goal harshly disallowed; a flurry of other cautions; classy opponents cutting swathes on the counter against a jittery defence. Salvaging a draw felt like an achievement. Ukraine are ranked 39th in the world while England, albeit mystifyingly, are third, yet all Hodgson's team could offer was huff and puff until their luck turned late on. Next month's trip to Poland, another threat, feels horribly awkward.

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