Paper Round: England qualifying campaign 'already on rocks'

After a sporting summer of relentless good news, the sports press sunk their teeth into England after a lethargic draw with Ukraine.

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Paper Round: England qualifying campaign 'already on rocks'
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England's coach Roy Hodgson consoles Steven Gerrard after being sent off during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Ukraine at Wembley stadium in London September 11 , 2012. (Reuters)

The Sun – ‘Players extinguish spirit of Olympics’

Steven Howard - Trust the England football team to bring our glorious summer of sport to a juddering halt. Trust them to extinguish both the Olympic flame and the Olympic spirit. Just 24 hours after the parade, they rained all over it. P****d all over it, in fact. Just 24 hours after Andy Murray had showed us what guts and glory is all about, our pampered Premier League prima donnas produced the sort of performance that we really hoped had been consigned to the dustbin of the past. Then, again, you can always rely on them.

Daily Express – ‘Qualifying campaign already on the rocks’

John Dillon - This was the night Roy Hodgson came dangerously close to being thrown out of the Honeymoon Suite. Thankfully, Frank Lampard kept the door ajar with a penalty after the manager made the changes to salvage his undefeated record. Make no mistake, though, the World Cup qualifying campaign is already on the rocks.

Daily Mirror – ‘Tepid Tuesday’

Oliver Holt - These past six weeks, we became used to seeing the Olympic Stadium packed to the rafters night after night. Weeks of Super Saturdays and Terrific Thursdays and roaring crowds and inspirational performances. So it was a shock to the system to see one side of Wembley’s upper tier totally empty here - a sombre swathe of vacant red seats. The atmosphere was flat and uncertain. Until the roar of relief that greeted Frank Lampard’s precious equaliser three minutes from time, it was Tepid Tuesday.

Daily Telegraph – ‘Cleverley’s tough reality’

Paul Hayward - England left a stadium of many empty seats with the new faces appearing overburdened by the task of lifting the nation to where the Olympians and Paralympians who watched this game now reside. In the hallowed No 10 shirt, Tom Cleverley represented the hope that hidden among the 66 Premier League starters available to Roy Hodgson there is a core of fresh talents to grace a World Cup in Brazil. A tougher reality was presented to the young Manchester United midfielder here by Ukraine’s blue-shirted sentries, who snatched the ball off him early and sent him beetling harmlessly around the pitch until he was replaced by Danny Welbeck, who was much more effective, after an hour.

Guardian – ‘Cleverley’s tough reality’

Richard Wiliams - If this glorious summer of sport was going to come to an unsatisfactory end, then it was always a safe bet that the England football team would be charged with the job of providing the anticlimax. On Tuesday night, in the first home fixture of a new World Cup qualifying campaign, they fumbled and bumbled to a draw that will have made no one optimistic about their chances of distinguishing themselves in Brazil in two years' time. The vast empty spaces in the stands of the new Wembley spoke of a nation no longer in thrall to its football team. On the south side, the complete upper tier had been left vacant. The dress circle, where the prawn-sandwich brigade congregate, was thinly populated, and many of the high-yield corporate hospitality boxes were completely empty. Behind the goals there were just about enough fans to hold up the placards making a cross of St George during the national anthem.

Daily Star – ‘Far from Clever’

David Woods - Ukraine may share a border with Moldova and similarly beautiful women. But the two countries are a million miles apart when it comes to football [...] In truth, anyone who thinks the introduction of a couple of young talents in Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is all we need to win the World Cup in 2014 is talking Brazil nuts. Two days after Frank Lampard bemoaned the lack of goals from emerging England midfielders, Cleverley did his utmost to prove the 34-year-old spot on. As for Oxlade-Chamberlain, he is known as the Ox and there has been plenty of bullocks written and spoken about him already. He even has his own Arsenal show called Ox TV. Well, he proved last night he knows how to switch off.

The Independent – ‘A night to face the reality of relentless English decline’

James Lawton - Steven Gerrard said the other day that miracles do happen in football and one of them could be an England victory in the next World Cup. He might also have said that it was already time to light the candles and put down the prayer mat. Last night he received a red card and a fresh insight into the scale of the challenges he faces as an ageing captain of England.

Daily Mail – ‘A bad night for Roy’

Matt Lawton - There were positives. There was a marvellous performance from Danny Welbeck as a second-half substitute; a performance that secured the penalty that Frank Lampard then scored to spare Roy Hodgson the ignominy of becoming the first England manager since Kevin Keegan to lose a World Cup game at Wembley. But Hodgson came closer than he would have liked to feeling as wretched as Keegan did on that October afternoon 12 years ago.

The Times – ‘The game you wouldn’t want to miss’

Matt Dickinson – Thanks to the lateness of last night’s equaliser, at least Hodgson’s players departed with no boos to affect their fragile confidence from a crowd that was respectable by European standards for a midweek international but smaller than Great Britain’s women had drawn during the Olympics. This had not been an easy sell and next up is San Marino or “the game you wouldn’t want to miss”, according to a desperate stadium announcer.

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