LONDON: England captain Steven Gerrard admitted feeling hard done-by after being sent off in his side’s lacklustre 1-1 draw against Ukraine but insisted Roy Hodgson’s team were still on course to qualify for the World Cup.
Beating minnows San Marino without Gerrard should not prove a major problem, but the laboured efforts against Ukraine sent out a reminder. England needed an 87th-minute penalty from Frank Lampard to avoid a shock defeat following a spectacular first-half strike from Yevhen Konoplyanka — and Gerrard’s dismissal, perhaps harsh given he appeared to win the ball, denied them an opportunity to push for a winner at the end.
“I don’t think there was a bad tackle in the game, and I think the referee’s given seven yellow cards,” said Gerrard. “It’s disappointing for me because it’s a red card — my first one in 98 caps. But we play San Marino next. I’m sure the boys can do the job without me. I’m gutted over the red but happy with my performance. But we’re disappointed not to get the three points.”
Deschamps savours return
Meanwhile, Didier Deschamps encouraged France’s players to enjoy the taste of victory after seeing his side overcome Belarus 3-1 in their second qualifying match.
Second-half goals from Etienne Capoue, Christophe Jallet and Franck Ribery cost the Belarusians and sent France top of Group I.
“It’s always a very good evening when you win,” said Deschamps. “And it’s becoming rarer and rarer to score three goals at the highest level, so you have to savour it.”
‘Germany can’t afford more mistakes’
Germany will need to raise their game if they want to make it to Brazil in 2014, the team was warned, despite securing another three points against Austria to stay at the top of their World Cup qualifying group.
“I’m very happy with the result because we got three points away in Austria against a strong team,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said after the match. “With the game itself, I’m only marginally happy … all the Austrian chances came from errors on our part. After the 2-1, we should have controlled the game.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2012.
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