England went into their World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk knowing that they had already secured their passage through to the finals in South Africa, but they were keen to maintain their 100% record in their group.
However, the encounter in Eastern Europe would most likely prove to be the toughest assignment of their campaign after Fabio Capello's side had previously come away with a 4-1 win against the other main contenders in the group, Croatia.
Theo Walcott, who netted a hat-trick that night, was forced to miss the trip to Ukraine along with Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe through injury, but Capello was able to call upon goalkeeper David James for the first time since April.
The Italian boss opted to select Robert Green as he began to consider who would wear the number one jersey in South Africa in eight months' time, but the West Ham United goalkeeper was unable to take his opportunity to impress.
The occasion was frequently being interrupted by flares being thrown onto the pitch by the home supporters, but the action ignited on 13 minutes when Green was dismissed for bringing down Artem Milevskiy in the penalty area after a mistake from Rio Ferdinand.
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James was soon introduced in place of the unlucky Aaron Lennon, who was also looking to stake a claim for a permanent spot in the starting lineup, but England were handed a reprieve when Andriy Shevchenko's penalty hit the post and went wide.
Ukraine continued to push the England backline onto the defensive with little joy in front of goal, until shortly before the half-hour mark, they opened the scoring.
England could count themselves a little unfortunate after Glen Johnson's tackle felt straight into the path of Sergiy Nazarenko, who saw his effort fly into the top corner after a deflection off Ashley Cole.
The home side had all of the momentum and were looking to double their advantage before the break, but after Milevskiy struck the crossbar from 25 yards, England were able to hold on until the half-time whistle.
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Capello made his final alteration of the evening by bringing on Carlton Cole for Emile Heskey as he looked to inject some fresh legs in attack, but it was their hosts who looked more likely to score a second goal, with James saving well from Andriy Yarmolenko.
The final whistle was quickly approaching and England came agonisingly close to finding a last-minute equaliser, but Rooney could only drive the ball wide after some neat work from Cole.
In the end, England's attempts were in vain but Capello could be encouraged by the fact that his team had remained competitive in such a hostile environment with 10 men for nearly 80 minutes.
After entering the tournament on the back of three friendly victories, England endured a testing time in South Africa, scraping two draws before edging out Slovenia to move through to the knockout stages.
However, it all turned sour for Capello's men, who were dismantled by a vastly improving Germany outfit, who displayed little mercy in dumping their rivals out of the competition with a 4-1 win.