Saturday, 8 June 2013


ABOVE: Denys Garmash grabs Ukraine's opener against Montenegro
Hodgson’s men have to negotiate a tricky trip to Ukraine, as well as a home banana skin against ­Moldova, before that.
8th June 2013

By George Scott

ROY HODGSON saw for himself that England have nothing to fear from World Cup rivals Montenegro.

The former Yugoslav republic may still lead Group H but their stormy 4-0 defeat against Ukraine last night proves the Three Lions should finish top of the pile come October.

However, England boss Hodgson is taking Montenegro so seriously that he travelled to Podgorica to watch a match in which three players were sent off.

Hodgson obviously wanted to see for himself what his side can expect in the crunch clash with Montenegro at Wembley on October 11.

Hodgson’s men have to negotiate a tricky trip to Ukraine, as well as a home banana skin against ­Moldova, before that.

But it is already looming large as a potential winner-takes-all showdown for an automatic ticket to Brazil next summer.

Montenegro started with Arsenal and Chelsea target Stevan Jovetic up front, alongside prolific Mirko Vucinic.

But they struggled in the early stages to make much of an impression against a resolute Ukraine defence.

And when Vucinic did race clear, from Jovetic’s superb pass, the Juventus striker fluffed his lines and prodded wide with only the keeper to beat.

Unfortunately for Montenegro, that was Jovetic’s last contribution as he limped off with an apparent hamstring injury just before half-time.

But the home side were given a boost right before the break when Roman Zozulya was controversially sent off.

The Ukraine striker leaned into Vladimir Bozovic, who went down theatrically holding his face claiming an elbow, with referee Manuel Grafe then showing a straight red card.

But 10-man Ukraine grabbed the lead on 51 minutes when Denys Garmash scored after a bad error by Montenegro’s goalkeeper.

Hodgson’s delight increased even further 15 minutes later when Montenegro were also reduced to 10 men when Vladimir Volkov got his second booking.

Yevgen Konoplyanka then really stuck the knife in with a second goal after 77 minutes.

And there was still time for Montenegro to have another player sent off when Savo Pavicevic received his second yellow.

Montenegro collapsed in the final stages as Artem Fedetskiy and Roman Bezus added two more late on.

Ukraine are just one point behind England in the table in third place, but Poland’s hopes of making it a four-way battle for Brazil were severely dented as they could only manage a 1-1 draw in Moldova.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski put Poland in front after just seven minutes.

But Eugeniu Sidorenco equalised after 37 minutes to leave Poland three points adrift of England.