England emerged from their extended stay in Poland with a point after a 1-1 draw that keeps them atop their World Cup qualifying group.
Following a heavy downpour on Tuesday, the match finally took place a day later with Wayne Rooney putting England into a first-half lead. Poland's attacking endeavors throughout warranted at least a point, though, and they finally drew level through Kamil Glik’s header with 20 minutes remaining.
Reuters Kamil Glik heads home Poland's equalizer as England's Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott try in vain to reach the ball first.
Kamil Glik heads home Poland's equalizer as England's Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott try in vain to reach the ball first.
Cheered on by a passionate home support under the roof of Warsaw’s National Stadium, it was Poland that immediately looked the more threatening. While England struggled to find their passing range throughout, Poland took advantage with a succession of fast-paced attacks.
Inside 10 minutes, Poland created their first good opportunity. Left back Jakub Wawrzyniak found space for a cross form the byline, but Kamil Grosicki badly mishit his first-time effort and the danger was averted.
Poland’s chief threat was coming down the flanks, while Ludovic Obraniak provided a proficient link in the middle. Lukasz Piszczek was relishing the space to get forward from right-back and was just denied getting on the end of a low ball across the box by the sharp reactions of Joe Hart.
England’s first real opening of any note came as Glen Johnson and James Milner linked up well down the right but the latter’s low cross was just taken away from Jermain Defoe at the near post.
It was more lax passing from England that gifted Poland another chance to go on the attack. This time Joe Hart was the culprit as he kicked the ball straight out to an opposition player. Lewandowski received a pass and bustled past Tom Cleverley and into the box before firing a low drive across the face of goal from an angle that perhaps favored a cross.
But, against the run of play, England were the side that grabbed the lead in the 31st minute. Steven Gerrard’s corner from the right was allowed to travel all too easily into the six yard box toward Rooney, who misjudged his attempted header but the ball fortuitously struck his shoulder and angled into corner of the net.
The goal appeared to do little to settle England. They would have been delighted to get into half-time in front, especially after Grosicki fired a shot wide having been set up by an exquisite Lewandowski lofted through ball.
The early signs were not good that England’s comfort level would be enhanced in the second-half. Within two minutes of the restart, Grosicki whipped in a low ball that Phil Jagielka should have cleared with ease but a made a real mess of and Johnson had to make an outstanding sliding challenge to prevent Pawel Wszolek from having a tap in.
The half chances kept coming for Poland. Obraniak struck a good shot toward the top corner from 25 yards, but Hart was fairly comfortable in pushing it over the bar. Hart would have been breathing a greater sigh of relief as the hour mark approached and Piszczek’s well struck first-time volley fizzed the side netting.
For all Poland’s endeavors, England should have gone 2-0 up in the 65th minute as Poland’s marking again went missing at a set piece. Gerrard again provided the delivery, this time from a free-kick to the right, that found Defoe in all kinds of space at the back post but the Tottenham striker got his volley all wrong and ended up firing it across the face of goal.
England had another chance minutes later to surely put the result beyond doubt. Defoe’s replacement, Danny Welbeck was instantly involved as he almost got onto the end of Milner’s through ball before being forced wide by the intervention of Przemyslaw Tyton. Welbeck bided his time before laying it back to Rooney on the edge of the six yard box, but on his weaker left foot, the Manchester United forward side-footed a long way over the bar.
England were almost instantly made to pay for their profligacy as Poland finally grabbed a deserved equalizer. As with England, Poland profited from a set piece as Obraniak’s corner found Hart rushing out but getting nowhere near the ball, allowing Glik to get above Joleon Lescott and power a fine header into the unguarded net.
While a teasing low ball across the face of goal by Milner came close to getting a decisive touch, there was to be no late drama. Given how the match played out and the situation in the group, it is a result that will likely suit England better than Poland.
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