Football: England's dreary 1-1 home stalemate with Ukraine was hardly cause for celebration but Roy Hodgson was cautiously optimistic about the future today.
The Group H draw at Wembley yesterday leaves England sitting second in the battle to qualify for Brazil 2014, with tricky trips to Poland, Montenegro and Ukraine are still to come.
But in the performance of a team lacking 12 players through injury, Hodgson has found plenty of reasons for quiet confidence.
“Sometimes you think every time you drop points at home, it is crucial,” he said.
“But the team I’m working with here are capable of getting results anywhere in the world if they can play the type of football we are capable of.
“We’ve come away with a result and don’t forget the Ukraine have still got to beat us over there.”
Ukraine threatened to pull off a shock victory until Frank Lampard’s late penalty snatched what could prove a vital 1-1 draw.
And Hodgson revealed that he found it hard to watch as the Chelsea midfielder stepped up to take the spotkick.
“It was one of the first times in my career I was tempted to look away,” said Hodgson.
“I forced myself to watch. I was so anxious that he scored.”
Despite the understandable anxiety, Hodgson’s positivity filtered through to his players, including England and Everton defender Phil Jagielka.
The 30-year-old, selected for Hodgson’s starting XI after being drafted in to replace the injured John Terry, said today: “We’d have loved to have had the full six points but four points will do. As long as we continue building on it, we’ll be fine.”
He added: “Definitely one point gained.
“We look forward to the next game now and if we can make that seven then it’s a progression and hopefully we’ll finish top of the group.”
Fellow England defender Joleon Lescott was confident that England have got their “toughest” World Cup qualifier out the way.
“It was our toughest game, I felt, in the Euros, and they showed again what a good team they are,” he said.
“There’s no easy games in the group but we felt that we probably got our toughest one out of the way.”
He added: “We’re a determined bunch of lads and we thought we could’ve scored early on and obviously go on and get a victory but it just wasn’t to be.”
Liverpool’s Glen Johnson echoed that sentiment.
“It’s definitely a point gained,” he said.
“Four points out of the two games is a good start, so we’ll try to progress from here and keep going.”
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