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Sep 11, 2012

Lampard's late penalty salvages draw

WEMBLEY, England -- England's soccer team found a way to quickly dissipate the nation's summer of sporting success and bring back the gloom.

After the Olympics and Paralympics created a feel-good atmosphere in London, the national team returned to Wembley on Tuesday night to play Ukraine and narrowly avoided what would have been its first competitive home loss in five years.

Frank Lampard converted a penalty kick in the 87th minute, giving England a 1-1 tie in Roy Hodgson's first competitive home match as coach.

"We rely on him and he's done the job again for us tonight," captain Steven Gerrard said.

Lampard scored his 26th international goal after Yevhen Khacheridi was called for a hand ball. One minute later, Gerrard was ejected after received his second yellow card, for fouling Denys Garmash from behind. Gerrard became the first England captain to be sent off since David Beckham in 2005.

"These games are not easy and in the end getting a point is a good result considering we were 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go," Lampard said.

Yevhen Konoplianka scored for Ukraine in the 39th minute, crisply curling the ball from 25 yards into the top corner of Joe Hart's goal.

"The young players we had in the squad were probably a little bit intimidated we were leading against England," Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said through a translator. "The England team has excelled in the second half and we have got tired."

England (1-0-1) is second in Group H on goal difference behind Montenegro (1-0-1), which won 6-0 at San Marino. The group winner qualifies for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and eight of the nine European second-place teams advance to playoffs.

"I'm not prepared to say it wasn't a great performance," Hodgson said.

England was missing Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Ashley Cole because of injuries. Ukraine was seeking to avenge its 1-0 loss to England at Donetsk in the European Championship three months ago, when officials wrongly didn't count a goal by Marko Devic despite the ball crossing the line. Devic only made a late appearance in Tuesday's game.

This time England felt aggrieved.

Jermain Defoe believed he had scored in the 10th minute but the goal was disallowed by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir because Defoe used his arm to push Andriy Yarmolenko while cutting into the penalty area.

"It wasn't a foul at all so we're very disappointed with that," Gerrard said.

England's Tom Cleverley squandered two good chances in the first half of his third England appearance. The midfielder headed straight at goalkeeper Andri Piatov's feet from point-blank range after being set up by Defoe.

And in the search for an equalizer, there was not enough urgency from Cleverley when Lampard squared the ball with precision to him, making a sloppy connection with his heel and missing the target.

"We went a goal down to a wonder goal but I was really pleased with the way we kept tidy, kept trying and didn't resort to any hopeful long balls," Hodgson said. "We kept playing through and creating chances and we were rewarded in the end ... because had we lost the game it would have been very harsh on us."

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