With England having secured their place in the World Cup Finals next summer, players are now fighting for a place in Capello's World Cup squad. Not to mention that up until this match, England had a 100% record in their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, a feat that no England team has managed by the completion of a qualifying round. England also needed to try to secure wins in their final two World Cup qualifiers as match results are used when calculating the FIFA World Rankings, and these rankings factor into the seeding process when it comes to the Finals draw, which takes place early December. This match was broadcast on the internet and select Odeon theatres only in the UK. A first for an England game, and not a popular decision with fans.
Rio Ferdinand made a return to the team, with Matthew Upson making way for the return of the Manchester United defender, and the other change to Capello's team from England's last outing was Michael Carrick who was in for Gareth Barry. There was no place on the bench for former England captain, David Beckham, during this fixture.
There was drama in the 13th minute of this match after Ukraine sent a long ball to Milevskiy. Ferdinand made an error, and with Milevskiy getting on the inside of him, Robert Green had no option but to race out of his goal, diving at the feet of Milevskiy to try to get the ball. The Ukrainian forward went tumbling to the floor and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. There was then confusion as the referee red carded Ferdinand, however the fourth official was on hand to correct the referee. With Green heading to the dressing room (he is the first England goalkeeper to be dismissed), David James entered the match with Aaron Lennon leaving the field. Shevchenko took the penalty but with James going the wrong way, his shot hit the right post and went wide. Relief for England who had to re-group with being down to 10 men.
Ukraine took the lead in the 29th minute when an error by Ashley Cole resulted in Nazarenko firing a shot from 20 yards. The ball took a deflection off Ashley Cole and beat David James who could only watch as the ball sailed into his goal. Two minutes later, Frank Lampard, on the 10th anniversary of his England debut, saw his low shot go just inches wide of the post after the ball went across the goal.
Just one minute later, Ukraine narrowly missed extending their lead when Milevskiy hit a great long shot, which struck the bar, fortunately for the visitors.
At half-time Steven Gerrard did not return to the field due to a thigh injury, he was replaced by James Milner. In the 54th minute Rakitskiy had a fantastic long-range shot which forced James to make a great save. James also made another good save in the 79th minute when Rakitskiy released Yarmolenko, who had replaced Nazarenko. In the final minute of regular play, Carlon Cole made a nice pass to Wayne Rooney whose 20 yard shot narrowly missed the goal, thus denying England the equalizer.
So, after a dramatic match, one which had flares thrown on the pitch during play by the home fans, this was Fabio Capello's first defeat in a competitive match. England also lost their 100% record in this qualifying round. While the defence may concern the England manager, the team did do better in the second half, especially considering they were a player down for most of the match. England's final World Cup qualifying match is on Wednesday at Wembley against Belarus.
Pyatov #12, Kucher #3, Kobin #16, Khacheridi #14, Rakitskiy #5, Tymoschuk #4, Rotan #2, Nazarenko #18 (Yarmolenko 67 mins - #6), Gai #8, Shevchenko #7 (Gusev 90 mins - #9), Milevskiy #15.
Subs Not Used: Shovkovskiy #1, Shevchuk #13, Mykhalyk #17, Voronin #10, Seleznyov #11.
Green #1, Ferdinand #5, A Cole #3, Terry #6 - Captain, Johnson #2, Gerrard #4 (Milner 46 mins - #16), Carrick #11, Lampard #8, Lennon #7 (James 15 mins - #12), Heskey #9 (C Cole 72 mins - #17), Rooney #10.
Subs Not Used: Bridge #13, Upson #14, Barry #15, Agbonlahor #18. (Full Squad)
Ukraine Goal: Nazarenko (29 mins)
England Red Card: Green (14 mins)
Ukraine Cautions: Kobin (45 mins), Khacheridi (68 mins), Tymoschuk (72 mins), Rotan (79 mins)
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)