England’s winning run in their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign came to a halt as they were held to a draw by Ukraine in Wroclaw.
Ukraine were backed by 40,000 fans in the Tarczynski Arena, giving the game the fervent feel of a home fixture despite them being unable to play in their own country because of the war with Russia.
The magnificently noisy backing in Poland turned to a deafening roar when Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko put Ukraine ahead after 26 minutes, turning in a cross from Yukhym Konoplya.
England had plenty of possession but lacked creativity and it needed a moment of brilliance from captain Harry Kane to set up the equaliser four minutes before half-time, dropping back almost to the halfway line before sending a magnificent raking pass to play in Kyle Walker for his first international goal on his 77th appearance.
Gareth Southgate’s side had the better of the second half, going close when Bukayo Saka’s shot was turned on to the bar by the slightest touch from Ukraine keeper Georgiy Bushchan.
England are still firmly on course to qualify for next summer’s Euros in Germany, but this was a lacklustre performance.
Colourless England rely on Kane
Harry Kane’s goalscoring importance for England is proved by his status as the country’s record marksman, but his development into the complete player cannot be under-estimated.
Kane helped to rescue a point from a dreary team display with that brilliant demonstration of his vision and range of passing to set up Walker’s goal.
It was a rare moment of quality from England and questions will once more be raised about what appeared to be a conservative approach from manager Southgate.
England’s midfield contained the natural talent and variety of Jude Bellingham and James Maddison, but there was a lack of balance and urgency in the face of a Ukraine side determined to repay their fans for some very special support.
It would take something truly remarkable for England to slip up in qualifying, yet there was very little else in the way of positive news to take away from Wroclaw as Southgate’s players head to Glasgow for Tuesday’s friendly against Scotland.
Ukraine’s show of unity
This was a truly special occasion in Wroclaw as thousands of Ukrainians away from their war-torn home country put on a magnificent show of support and unity for their football team.
The stadium was packed with Ukrainian supporters living in Poland, all whipped up into a loud frenzy before kick-off by the enthusiasm and cheerleading of the PA announcer.
And the noise when Zinchenko gave them the lead was ear-splitting, as it was every time Ukraine won a tackle, header or advanced anywhere near the England goal.
Phone torches lit up the stadium in the closing stages as Ukraine closed out a point, and the unity between players and supporters at the final whistle was emotional and remarkable.
- 22MatvienkoSubstituted forKryvtsovat 45′minutes
- 17ZinchenkoSubstituted forBuyalskyiat 76′minutes
- 6StepanenkoBooked at 22mins
- 8SudakovSubstituted forSydorchukat 65′minutes
- 10MudrykSubstituted forNazarynaat 90′minutes
- 9YaremchukBooked at 42minsSubstituted forDovbykat 65′minutes
- 6MaguireBooked at 86mins
- 10BellinghamSubstituted forRashfordat 65′minutes
- 7SakaSubstituted forGallagherat 86′minutes
- 11MaddisonBooked at 34minsSubstituted forFodenat 66′minutes
Match ends, Ukraine 1, England 1.
Second Half ends, Ukraine 1, England 1.
Corner, England. Conceded by Viktor Tsygankov.
Attempt blocked. Conor Gallagher (England) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Marcus Rashford.
Substitution, Ukraine. Ehor Nazaryna replaces Mykhailo Mudryk because of an injury.
Substitution, England. Conor Gallagher replaces Bukayo Saka.
Harry Maguire (England) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Harry Maguire (England).
Heorhii Bushchan (Ukraine) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Marcus Rashford (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Yukhym Konoplya (Ukraine).
Foul by Phil Foden (England).
Vitalii Buyalskyi (Ukraine) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match (England).
Substitution, Ukraine. Vitalii Buyalskyi replaces Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Attempt saved. Harry Maguire (England) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Phil Foden with a cross.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match because of an injury Mykhailo Mudryk (Ukraine).
Corner, England. Conceded by Vitalii Mykolenko.