So England will go into their final two matches on top of the group. If they beat Poland and Montenegro at Wembley on 11 and 15 October respectively, they are assured of their place at next summer's World Cup, so they have every right to be pleased with tonight's result, especially as they were missing key forwards. Yet this was hardly the most inspiring performance against an average Ukraine side. England clearly wanted a point, sure, but they will need to keep the ball far better against both Poland and Montenegro. There can be no triumphalism yet. England have plenty of room for improvement. Thanks for reading. Good night.
Full-time: Ukraine 0-0 England
It's over. There is a God.
90 min+3: Ukraine replaces Yarmolenko with Khomchenovskiy.
90 min+2: England go so close to snatching victory! Kyle Walker launches a long ball into the box, Lambert flicks it on and there's Lampard ghosting in, eight yards from goal. The perfect end to his 100th cap? No, he heads wide on the run.
90 min+1: There will be three more minutes of this.
90 min: Yevhen Seleznyov replaces Zozulya.
89 min: 2022 here we come!
88 min: Tom Cleverley replaces Theo Walcott, who limps down the tunnel to get some treatment on that sore ankle.
87 min: "Given that we haven't beaten any of the genuine contenders in the group why are we hailing a result that puts us one loss from finishing outside even a playoff place as constructive?" says Cormac Sullivan. "Particularly when we have Jovetic, Vucinic and Lewandowski (and the thoroughly decent teams they play in) coming to town?" I don't think they'll lose at home to either Poland or Montenegro but I'm not entirely sure that Hodgson will know how to beat them.
86 min: It really is staggering that Michael Carrick can't get into a side that can't pass. The lack of technical ability on show has been depressing.
85 min: Yarmolenko jinks in from the right and blasts an ambitious shot miles over.
84 min: England have defended stoutly when they've had to but it's been the same old failings when they have the ball. It's painful stuff.
82 min: Ukraine mess around with the ball on the edge of the area, allowing Walker to pinch possession and send a cross towards the near post for Walcott, who screws a half-chance a couple of yards wide of the far post.
78 min: Cole's cross is deflected behind for an England corner on the right. Young's corner is a waste of time.
77 min: Ukraine, belatedly, are turning the screw. Not that they look particularly threatening. Dan Pressland reckons Alan Shearer might be England's best penalty taker, pointing out he only missed one against Poland in 1997.
75 min: Kyle Walker fouls Konoplyanka on the left. He's already on a booking and needs to watch himself. "I'm watching Austria vs Ireland at the same time on another screen and I really can't decide which of these four teams is the poorest," says Jorg Michner. "Either of them going to Brazil next year would result in an utter embarrassment for the respective country. Also, I find it really confusing that on one screen I have to root for the team in red and white, and on the other screen against the one in red and white. Oh, I'm half Austrian half Ukrainian by the way."
74 min: What a chance for Fedetskiy. What an escape for England, their biggest for quite some time. In goes Konoplyanka's corner and Fedetskiy is all alone six yards out. He totally mistimes his header though and sends it straight at a grateful Hart. But where were the England defenders?
73 min: Walcott's decision-making is hilarious at times. After that corner was cleared, England had a three-on-three break, Walcott sprinting into the distance and ... passing to a Ukraine defender.
72 min: The free-kick is to the left of the D, around 22 yards out. Konoplyanka is the favourite with his right foot. Instead of curling it over the wall, he whips it low towards the far corner. It takes slight deflection on its way through and fizzes and bounces past Hart's left post. The corner is cleared.
70 min Part 2: That was my misguided attempt at making something happen. Ukraine attack immediately, Besuz leading the charge, and Walker bundles over Zozulya just outside the area. He's booked. For a moment, it looked like it might have been a penalty.
70 min: This is going to finish 0-0.
69 min: "Blast from the past: meanwhile in Turin, Balotelli just scored his 20th penalty out of 20," says Fritz. "Anybody knows who is the England player, past or present, with the best penalty conversion ratio?"
68 min: Jack Wilshere's evening is over. Ashley Young is on. Ukraine replaces Gusev with Roman Besuz.
64 min: Walcott is back on. He might not last long, though.
63 min: Ashley Young is going to come on. Walcott is still limping and England are down to 10 men for the time being. That was a poor challenge from Kucher.
62 min: Kucher is booked for a rake down Walcott's achilles, bringing the winger down in full flight. Walcott felt that.
61 min: I'm finding it increasingly hard to believe these are two international teams. They can hardly string two passes together.
59 min: Ashley Young is warming up for England now.
58 min: And just as I say that, Ukraine wake up. Konoplyanka charges down the left and pulls a cross back to Yarmolenko on the edge of the area. England are suddenly exposed and Yarmolenko feints to shoot from the edge of the area before turning a cute pass through to Zozulya, who should turn but instead tries to return the pass to Yarmolenko. Gerrard clears.
57 min: England won't care a bit but this is terrible.
54 min: "I’ve got yet another theory on Wilshere’s recent form," says Stephen Mitchell. "While injuries are certainly a contributor, Jack seems to get fouled quite a lot, possibly because other teams have caught on to the fact that he’s rather easy to wind up. Once he’s wound up, he loses concentration and his form often dips shortly thereafter. I think that partially explains why he was so good against Barcelona two years ago, when he was against up against Xavi and Iniesta—not exactly wind-up merchants." Yes, he's quite a spiky character.
53 min: Basic control is beyond Ukraine at the moment. They're not very good.
50 min: Konoplyanka flashes the corner to the far post, where the ball bounces off Fedetskiy and behind. "The next goal might be the winner, you say? says Colum Farrelly. "But some bloke at 7.54pm said 'There are, it's fair to say, goals in this match'." I know, it's amazing how football matches can change.
49 min: Two corners, both cleared. But the ball is swung back into the area and Cole has to be in the right place to head behind for another corner to Ukraine, this time on the left. "Is it fair to say that the pre-match comparisons drawn between this game and England's 1997 game in Rome against a team featuring Albertini, Zola, Cannavaro and Nesta were a little generous?" says David Hopkins.
48 min: Jagielka inadvertently heads a harmless long ball behind for a corner on the right to Ukraine. He was slightly caught out of position and the ball ended up skinning off the top of his head.
46 min: We're back. Gusev runs the ball out for an England goal-kick. "Eagerly hanging on your every word from my office building in New York," says Joe Bentley. "You are my eyes. However, it doesn't sound like I'm missing much though. May the least-worst team win... would that be fair to say?" Roy Keane suggests the next goal might be the winner. He could be right.
"I agree he held his own and shone in those matches but is it likely that he'll be able to reproduce those performances for England if he stays injury free?" says Nas Iqbal. "There is talk that Arsenal have played better when Jack hasn't started. But I'm not an arsenal fan and couldn't say for sure."
If he stays injury-free? Yes. But that's the big if.
On ITV, Lee Dixon and Roy Keane are suggesting that Zozulya was looking for that early penalty. He certainly was going down very quickly and might have made contact with Hart rather than the other way round. He was still lucky not to concede a penalty after going to ground so quickly. "Do we spend so much time doing England down that we sometimes blind ourselves to the faults of the opposition?" says Dan Pressland. "|Ukraine appear to be exactly as mediocre as England, if not even worse. This match is not a ringing endorsement of Group H."
Half-time: Ukraine 0-0 England
There is no need to panic. Yet. England are comfortable. Ukraine are poor.
45 min+1: There will be one more minute of averageness.
45 min: Lampard's heatseeker deflects off the wall and over the bar. "Gnarled?!" screams Ryan Dunne. "Gnarled!? For the record, I've been moisturising furiously since I was a teenager and, despite being 34, can easily pass for like 26 or so (ladies)."
44 min: Wilshere is sent flying by Gusev around 25 yards out. It's made for Lampard. Don't disappoint the scriptwriters.
43 min: Lambert pinches the ball in Ukraine's half and finds Walcott. He hammers a pass at Lampard's shins and the ball clatters off him and through to Pyatov. Theo Walcott is quick.
41 min: England attack. England lose the ball. Kyle Walker is out of position - no way! - and Konoplyanka breaks at speed down the left, taking on the exposed Gerrard. He shifts the ball on to his left foot and whips a fine cross into the middle for Zozulya, who can't bring the ball under his spell. Hart smothers.
39 min: "Is it possible that Jack Wilshere is a victim of the kind of hype that surrounds Rooney?" says Nas Iqbal. "He's a good player but compared to his continental counterparts he comes up short..." No, look at the performance against Barcelona two years ago. His problem is the injuries.
38 min: I'm losing count of the nothing long balls that Ukraine are drifting forward. It's so easy for Cahill and Jagielka.
36 min: The only person enjoying this match is Roy Hodgson. "Ian Copestake should try supporting Scotland," says Simon McMahon. "We're more than 'at home' with defeat on the international stage every few years. We built the house, have lived in it for 30 years but are currently unable to move because of negative equity, partial subsidence and an elderly mother who refuses to even countenance the idea."
34 min: "Gherkins?" says Paul Ewart. "Beetroots? Luxury. I worked the nightshift in a Chewits factory in my salad days. That's right. I..made...chewits. Beat that!"
33 min: The first shot from either side for a while. Thirty yards from goal, Gerrard opens up his body and tries to shape the ball into the top-left corner with his right foot. His effort lands on the top of the net.
32 min: Ukraine's performance is swiftly deteriorating. They have totally run out of ideas. All in all, it's not the greatest match right now.
31 min: "Jacob….75 + 25 = ???" says Peter Barnes. You've got to account for injury time.
29 min: Wilshere is giving the ball away with alarming regularity.
26 min: The opening 20 minutes were far too open for England's liking but they've squeezed the game since and Ukraine are struggling to get Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka involved.
25 min: There's not a lot going on at the moment. Ukraine surely can't have run out of ideas already. Khacheridi has spent the last few minutes blootering long balls straight through to Joe Hart. England will be very happy if they spend the next 75 minutes doing that.
22 min: Having said that, Ukraine haven't done much in the last 10 minutes. That early flurry has rather dissipated. "What must Michael Carrick be thinking?" says Paul Ewart. "Has he done something in a former life (copyright Hoddle G.)? He must have offended the gods somehow. Of all the midfielders of his generation, he is the most suited to international football, yet he still can't get a game."
21 min: Is this news? England are giving the ball away a lot. It's not really news, is it.
19 min: Konoplyanka cuts in from the left and sees his effort from 25 yards deflected wide by Cahill. The corner is headed away by Lambert, who has started confidently by the way.
18 min: Wilshere is struggling to make much of an impression at the moment. He's still not quite right after those injuries, is he?
16 min: England are fond of a long ball.
14 min: England must weather this storm. The hope is that Ukraine don't take their chances in this frenzied period and end up tiring themselves out. "I have worked in both a pickled onion factory and a gherkin one, which might have mattered once upon a time, but, on the other hand, at 57, am perceptibly slowing up," says Simon Gill. "Maybe that's why I'm sitting in front of the TV with a beer and not playing."
13 min: Fedetskiy's thrusts from right-back are causing problems for England. Another dinked cross finds him storming into the area and he hoicks it across to Zozulya, who is denied by magnificent defending from Cahill at the expense of a corner, from which nothing happens.
12 min: England are there for the taking. Zozulya chips a teasing cross towards the far post from the left. Gerrard tries to dummy the ball back to Hart but nearly ends up diverting it to Fedetskiy. He gets away with it.
11 min: It's frantic. And we can safely predict that neither of these teams will be winning the World Cup next year. 2022, though, just you wait.
10 min: It's very easy to mix up Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka. Apologies in advance if anyone is offended by that. "You say defeat is unthinkable but I find myself thinking about it often," says Ian Copestake. "In fact I blame England for forcing me to confront, wallow and make myself at home in defeat on the international stage every few years. So I say bring them home, have a nice cup of tea and let's give the world a break from us."
8 min: "Is it true Sam Morrison is actually a collective of gnarled MBM readers (Dunne, Naylor, McMahon etc.) trying to come up with the worst jokes to ever feature on these hallowed pages?" says Matt Dony. I think I'm comfortably winning on that front.
7 min: It appears that neither side can defend. Ukraine are all over the place at the back and so are England. After a Yarmolenko cross is cleared by Cole, the ball is whipped back into the England area from the right. Kyle Walker is asleep at the far post and Zozulya steals in behind but can't quite take the ball in his stride, allowing Hart to pat it away. There then ensues a Benny Hill chase from Hart for the ball as he grapples for it with Zuzulya. Dearie me. He eventually succeeds in clawing it away. There are, it's fair to say, goals in this match.
5 min: England look threatening, especially from corners. From two successive corners, Cahill twice makes a nuisance of himself in the Ukraine area. First he heads Lampard's corner from the right wide via a deflection off a Ukraine defender. He then meets the subsequent delivery with a powerful downward header and it's booted behind not too far from the line by Fedetskiy. Ukraine are struggling with England's strength at set-pieces. But they manage to deal with the third corner.
4 min: What a start here. England aren't fazed by that shaky start and attack again. Lambert hooks a neat ball in behind Shevchuk and the 34-year-old left-back is left wheezing by Walcott's pace. He's through on goal but can't quite get the ball out from under his feet and Pyatov smothers the chance, diverting it wide and injuring himself in the process.
3 min: England find their feet for the first time and Gerrard pings an ambitious shot towards goal from 35 yards out. He catches it beautifully and Pyatov dives to his right to hold it well.
2 min: Hart rather uncertainly punches the corner away. That was a massive let-off for England. Hart didn't appear to get near Zozulya. Hodgson's prediction nearly came to pass.
And they're off! England, in their red shirts and white shorts, get the game underway. They're attacking from right to left in the first half. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard take kick-off - what a partnership! The ball is touched back to Phil Jagielka, who immediately lumps it long. Ukraine are soon on the attack and Yarmolenko slides a clever pass into the area from the left. Zozulya nips in ahead of Joe Hart, who surely brings the striker down! That's a penalty. It has to be. But the referee gives a corner. A ludicrous decision.
Before the anthems, both captains both read out statements asking the crowd to be nice. "My game is fair play," says Steven Gerrard. The camera pans to the England fans, where one gentlemen is showing the finger to his Ukrainian counterparts. That's the cue for English national anthem. Frank Lampard sings it in Latin.
Here come the teams. The Olympic Stadium is loud. Lee Dixon reckons the way to quieten down the home fans is for England to keep the ball. Ah, their forte! "I didn't know Ricky Lambert once worked in a beetroot factory," says Julia Kite. "In fact, I didn't know there were beetroot factories, seeing how it comes out of the ground on its own. So I looked it up and it turns out his job was screwing lids to the tops of the jars of beetroot. Aha. Two thoughts: 1) aren't there machines that do this kind of thing, and 2) does this mean, if England fail to qualify, we know who to blame when you can't open a jar and how, when it finally gives, beetroot juice gets splashed all over your shirt? Fame is fickle."
Here are the full teams. The danger men for Ukraine are their wide players, Andrey Yarmolenko and Evgen Konoplyanka. Their threat might explain James Milner's inclusion ahead of Ashley Young. Meanwhile Frank Lampard makes his 100th appearance for England. Rickie Lambert makes his first appearance abroad.
Ukraine: Pyatov; Fedetskiy, Khacheridi, Kucher, Shevchuk; Stepanenko, Edmar, Gusev; Yarmolenko, Konoplyanka, Zozulya. Subs: Koval, Dedechko, Tymoschuk, Seleznyov, Khomchenovskiy, Bezus, Mandzyuk, Grechyshkin, Morozyuk, Rakitskiy, Devic, Khudzamov.
England: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole; Lampard, Gerrard, Wilshere, Walcott, Lambert, Milner. Subs: Ruddy, Smalling, Baines, Caulker, Carrick, Cleverley, Barkley, Defoe, Young, Sterling, Townsend, Forster.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)
"Rickie Lambert?" says Gary Naylor. "A one man football rehabilitation machine. I fear his too-good-to-be-trueness will blow up in our faces sooner or later and he'll get a red card for chinning a ball boy, but it's great while it lasts."
He'll be the next prime minister.
Sam Morrison is back. "Is it really true Ukraine have named their captain "on the bench"? If you put that one in, I'll rename myself."
Readers, do your worst.
"Is it really true that Dave Whelan broke Rickie Lambert's leg?" says Sam Morrison. He's here all week, folks.
Ukraine have surprisingly named their captain, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, on the bench. We'll have the full teams with you as soon as possible. That's a Guardian Promise!
Pray for Daniel Taylor - the only Daniel to make it to Kiev tonight.
There are no surprises in the England line-up. Here it is: Hart; Walker, Jagielka, Cahill, Cole; Walcott, Lampard, Gerrard, Wilshere, Milner; Lambert.
Good evening. The time for England to panic might come later. For now, there is merely a healthy sense of foreboding about what might happen in Kiev's Olympic Stadium tonight. England know what they need. A win would be magnificent but no one would turn their noses up at a draw that would mean that England would simply need to successfully negotiate two home matches against Poland and Montenegro to ensure they will be at the World Cup in Brazil next year. Defeat against Ukraine is unthinkable, though. In that eventuality, Ukraine would go top of the group with two eminently winnable matches left to play and England hopes of avoiding a play-off would be almost non-existent. This is not a night to be cavalier or gung-ho. This is a night for James Milner. Cometh the hour, cometh the scrapper.
England's preparations for such a crucial match have, unsurprisingly, been far from ideal. Kyle Walker has been given a good telling-off by the Daily Mail for doing something immoral and more importantly, England are without Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck, whose farcical booking in Friday night's win over Moldova ruled him out of tonight's game. All of which means that England are likely to line up with Rickie Lambert in attack again. Did you know that he once used to work in a beetroot factory? Did you know that Dave Whelan once broke his leg?
Roy Hodgson has been preaching calm in that even-handed way of his but he must be bubbling away underneath. He will know that his side are the underdogs tonight. It is not that they will be intimidated by the din in a stadium where they were passed off the pitch by Andrea Pirlo and Italy embarrassed in their Euro 2012 quarter-final; England have enough 'character' to deal with that. The question is more whether they will be able to keep their heads, stay calm in possession and deal with a talented Ukraine side that has been unfortunate not to win their previous two meetings against England. England need a blunder-free evening from Joe Hart, they need Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka to be Moore-esque, they need Jack Wilshere not to get injured, they need Frank Lampard to earn that 100th cap and they need Rickie Lambert to be the hero again. Easy.