Ukraine U21s 0-0 England U21s

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
Ukraine's Oleg Golodyuk (left) and England's Daniel Sturridge (right)
Sturridge (right) was the pick of the players

England had to settle for their second successive draw at the European Under-21 Championship after another lacklustre display against Ukraine.

Daniel Sturridge was the pick of the England players, twice forcing Anton Kanibolitskiy into making good saves from his long-range efforts and hitting the crossbar with another.

Danny Welbeck wasted a good chance when he fired wide from inside the area.

Ukraine went close through Yevhen Konoplyanka and Roman Zozulya.

They were both denied by Derby's Frankie Fielding, who was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

"It was better from England once they made the changes, but once again it took them 60 or 70 minutes to get into the game and they are indebted to a late save from Fielding for the point they have earned," said BBC Radio 5 live's Danny Mills.

That late save was from substitute Zozulya who, after a good one-two with team-mate Denys Garmash, fired in a low shot, although had he not slipped the outcome may have been different.

Coach Stuart Pearce's youngsters now need to defeat the Czech Republic on Sunday to secure a place in the semi-finals.

England came into the match on the back of a 1-1 draw against Spain, in which they were a clear second when it came to ball retention.

Pearce promised that his youngsters would produce a more dominant performance against Ukraine, but in the opening 20 minutes it was their less lauded opponents who displayed most of the slick passing and movement.

England looked ugly in comparison as they resorted to hoofing long balls up to Manchester United's Welbeck, who admirably tried to create something out of virtually nothing.

Ukraine's first chance of the match fell to Konoplyanka, whose 25-yard drive was pushed away by keeper Fielding, but only into the path of Maxym Biliy who was denied a shot on goal by a brilliant challenge from Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand.

Shakhtar Donetsk defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy was the next to go close for Ukraine, drilling a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide.

England had yet to make Anton Kanibolitskiy break sweat, but that changed 10 minutes before half-time when Chelsea striker Sturridge, who impressed on loan at Bolton last season, launched a magnificent effort from 25 yards that defeated the goalkeeper and crashed against the woodwork.

Pearce's men improved in patches after the interval. They were the first to hit the target when Sturridge whipped in a low free-kick around the wall which forced a good save from the Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk stopper.

Moments later, Welbeck should have put England ahead when he was brilliantly found by Sturridge's precise long pass. The United forward, who was on loan at Sunderland last season, ran between two defenders but fired his shot wide from 10 yards.

England failed to build on their small amount of pressure, instead allowing Ukraine to come back into the game - and Fielding came to the rescue again when he beat away a shot from Garmash before denying Zozulya.

Pearce's men nearly snatched it late on when Sturridge's rasping effort was pushed away by Kanibolitskiy, who then saved Welbeck's header from the resulting corner.

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce:

"We've played two matches against two really tough sides.

"The only goal we've conceded in that time was a really poor set-play so that side of the game's been pretty good.

"We just really have to maybe take the odd chance, create one or two clear-cut chances, because we've got the ability to score goals - that's for sure.

"The back four and the goalkeeper enjoy defending. I thought [defender] Phil Jones was a colossus today, as were the rest of them.

"We go into the game Sunday having to win to go through but our destiny is in our own hands.

"This is why you bring players to tournaments, to perform under pressure."

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