World Cup: Rooney goal helps poor England hold Poland

World Cup qualifying Group H, Stadion Narodowy, Warsaw – Poland 1 (Glik 70), England 1 (Rooney 31)

World Cup: Rooney goal helps poor England hold Poland

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FOOTBALL 2012 Poland-England (Rooney)

England rode their luck as they held Poland to a 1-1 draw in their World Cup Group H qualifier courtesy of a fortunate Wayne Rooney goal at Warsaw's National Stadium.

In a performance of some poverty, Roy Hodgson's side were lucky to escape from the Polish capital with a point in a match that was played at 5pm local time due to torrential rain forcing its postponement on Tuesday evening amid some farcical scenes.

England did little or nothing of great note in the match when it finally kicked off. The goal symbolised England's performance on the night as the ball flew into the home net off Rooney's shoulder via Lukasz Piszczek from a Steven Gerrard corner on 31 minutes. It was Rooney's 32nd goal for the national side and his ninth goal in 11 qualifying ties, but did little to settle his team-mates.

Poland had enjoyed the territorial advantage throughout an always animated contest. They deservedly drew level on 70 minutes when Kamil Glik powered home a header from Ludovic Obraniak's corner as the poorly positioned England goalkeeper Joe Hart grasped at fresh air.

This rescheduled fixture was played under the roof despite autumn sun adorning Warsaw. It mattered little with England largely under the weather.

They at least remain unbeaten in the group with eight points from four matches, but are involved in a real battle to establish supremacy in the section with Montenegro only a point behind in second place with seven points from their three games.

Poland also remain heavily involved after showing some admirable fighting qualities before 43,000 impassioned fans to recover a match that could easily have got away from them.

They have five points from three games with Moldova on four points from four outings in a section that remains finely poised with England's next competitive fixture seeing them visit San Marino on March 21 before travelling to Montenegro four days later.

England are unbeaten in their past 11 matches in open play, but only Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson provided the level of performance England will require if they are going to emerge as group winners in their bid to qualify for the 2014 finals in Brazil.

Somewhat astonishingly, England have now mustered just one shot on target in four of Hodgson's 11 games running the national side.

Without ever cutting England apart at will, Poland should have been at least level at half-time as they set about their task with some eagerness.

Kamil Grosicki wasted their best opening on eight minutes when he mishit the ball from Jakub Wawrzyniak's cross. A clean contact would surely have provided the home side with the lead from eight yards out.

The eager and purposeful Obraniak then made a dashing run into the England area only for Hart to come off his line to make a brave block with the midfielder threatening to uncork a shot.

Borussia Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski displayed some of his finer skills when he darted into the visiting area 27 minutes. He thumped the ball across the face of goal with no takers on hand to convert as the shot skidded wide of goal.

England continued to misplace passes under little or no pressure and were almost penalised when Gilk collected a pass from Lewandowski, but he could only nudge the shot wide of goal with England caught out of position having again bled possession.

The second half promoted the same theme of England shedding the ball needlessly in various parts of the park. The excellent Johnson was forced to make a timely tackle on Pawel Wszolek after Jagielka had slipped trying to clear a loose ball on 48 minutes before Obraniak hit an effort at Hart that the England keeper did well to claw over.

Johnson could easily have had a penalty when he was bundled to the ground by Wszołek while substitute Danny Welbeck - who had replaced Jermain Defoe moments earlier - skipped clear as England finally mounted a meaningful counter attack just after the hour-mark.

The under deployed Poland goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń threw a hand to the ball, but Welbeck regrouped only to see Rooney lift his cutback miles over. It was to be his last action of a disappointing night as the Manchester United man was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with 17 minutes remaining.

Rooney was no longer on the park when Poland equalised, but perhaps would have liked to have been around when Tyton did superbly well to keep hold of a Gerrard cross with Welbeck threatening to pounce on any handling error in the closing moments.

If England had managed a late winner, it would have been a form of daylight robbery.


Glen Johnson: A bright spot in a gloomy night for England. Always willing going forward and covering at the back.


Poland: Tyton 6, Piszczek 7, Wasilewski 7, Glik 8, Wawrzyniak 6, Polanski 6, Grosicki 6, Kryshowiak 6, Wszolek 7, Obraniak 8, Lewandowski 6..subs: Mierzejewski 6, Borysiuk 6, Milik 6

England: Hart 5, Johnson 8, Jagielka 5, Lescott 6, Cole 5, Milner 6 Gerrard 7, Carrick 5, Cleverley 5, Rooney 5, Defoe 5..subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Welbeck 5

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)

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