Internationals: Danny’s impact
Patience paid off for Danny Welbeck and his national team on Tuesday night as the Manchester United striker helped England to salvage a point at Wembley.
The young Red insisted Roy Hodgson’s men demonstrated resolve to draw 1-1 with Ukraine, having gone behind to “a great goal by their left winger” Yevgeni Konoplianka in the first half. “He was outstanding,” admired Welbeck, “and we came up against a difficult side. But we dug in deep and pulled through as a team in the end.”
Welbeck came on for club colleague Tom Cleverley just after the hour and was credited with energising England, especially in the last ten minutes when he prodded a shot against the post, had one penalty appeal turned down and then won the crucial spot-kick with a cool piece of close control inside the box.
Taking the ball on his chest, Welbeck’s attempt to flick it over a defender was handled – and Frank Lampard smashed home the setpiece to level the scores. Lampard had earlier set up Cleverley for a close-range chance that he scuffed wide, and the United midfielder also hit the post in the same period just before half-time when Welbeck was still a spectator.Michael Carrick, meanwhile, remained among the unused substitutes.
“I was observing the game closely from the bench and I wanted to make an impact. But I wouldn’t have made a difference if the other players hadn’t worked hard before I came on,” a modest Welbeck told BBC Radio.
“I know I’m up against some great competition, Roy Hodgson has a wide variety of strikers to choose from. Jermain Defoe was selected ahead of me tonight and he’s a sharp shooter. I’m just biding my time and looking to make an impact when I do get on the pitch.”
While Welbeck looked in good shape, the fitness of a fellow United forward could be a concern at Carrington as the Reds prepare for Saturday’s return to league action. Robin van Persie was substituted at half-time as the Netherlands won 4-1 in Hungary, although quotes attributed to his national coach Louis van Gaal suggest the withdrawal was just a precautionary measure. Jeremain Lens (2), Bruno Martens and van Persie’s replacement Klaas Jan Huntelaar were on the Dutch side of the scoresheet.
Elsewhere on a busy night of World Cup 2014 qualifying matches in Europe, there were victories for United’s Patrice Evra (France beat Belarus 3-1), Nani (Portugal 3-0 Azerbaijan) and Joshua King (Norway 2-1 Slovenia), but disappointment for Jonny Evans as Northern Ireland conceded a late equaliser to be held 1-1 by underdogs Luxembourg in Belfast. Evra and Evans both played full matches, Nani clocked up 76 minutes with Portugal and King came on at half-time for the Norwegians in Oslo.
Meanwhile, Robbie Brady made an excellent, goalscoring debut for the Republic of Ireland in their 4-1 friendly win over Oman at Fulham’s Craven Cottage. The young winger, who filled in at left-back for United on Tour 2012, created the first and third strikes for Shane Long and Kevin Doyle respectively – and in between scored his first international goal at senior level with a volley in the 22nd minute.