England v Poland –
Final Score/Result: England 2-0 Poland
Man Of The Match: Steven Gerrard
Wayne Rooney provided England the lead with a wonderful headed goal in the 41st minute via Leighton Baines
England defeated Poland 2-0 at home as they secured top spot in the group and directly qualified for the World Cup in Brazil.
With Ukraine breathing down their neck, England needed to win this match in order to qualify directly for the World Cup and Roy Hodgson’s men got the job done with a solid performance at home.
Poland looked sharp and dangerous in the opening twenty minutes and created some good openings, but England held on and slowly but surely grew into the match. The host dominated the later stages of the first half and took the game to the away side. Finally Wayne Rooney managed to give them the lead with a wonderful headed goal in the 41st minute. Leighton Baines was given too much space space down the left throughout the first 45 minutes and the Everton left back finally made them pay by delivering a wonderful cross into the box, with Wayne Rooney heading it home.
The pace of the game dropped a bit in the second half, but England continued their dominance grabbing most of possession. Townsend was once again a constant menace down the right, and England should have got a bigger lead. But they failed to convert their chances, specially Danny Welbeck, who was guilty of missing a lot of opportunities in the game.
Eventually Steven Gerrard settled their nerves with a second goal in the 88th minute of the match as he bulldozed past the Polish defence and applied a deft finish to score past Szczesny. It was a deserved goal for the Liverpool midfielder, who controlled the game from the center of the park.
England manager Roy Hodgson was elated with the performance and the result.
“That second goal took about ten years off both of us – and I need it more than Ray.
“I have great satisfaction. This was a very tough group with a lot of tough games. Ukraine, Poland, Montenegro have all shown themselves to be very good opponents.
“I am delighted for the players. We played some sensational football in the first half and in the second, when the Poles had not so much to lose, we dug in, worked hard to control them.
“Luckily Steve’s goal gave Ray the chance to show his sprinting ability!” – The England manager said.
Despite remaining unbeaten in the qualifying campaign, England didn’t put convincing performances in a lot of away matches. But Roy Hodgson believes that his side are improving with every passing game.
“I think we have been getting better all the time.
“The results that spoiled, so it’s not an unblemished record, are the away games we only drew.
“But we knew we had these games, were coming strong, had players coming back from injury.
“We have also found an outstanding winger in [Andros] Townsend who has played two games as if he’s been there all his life.
“When you perform that well in front of 90,000 everyone will look. It’s when he’s not outstanding that people will ask “what’s happened to Andros Townsend?” but he will deal with that.” – he added.
The former Liverpool manager is also confident of a much better showing in the World Cup in Brazil.
“I’d like to think we will do a lot better.
“We have been working together for 18 months, the way we try and play has changed quite a lot and I would like to think in the months we have we might get better still.
“We need to keep the players together and as a group they really care.” – Hodgson said.
England v Poland – Statistics
Statistics courtesy whoscored.com and soccernet.com
Steven Gerrard put up a wonderful display in the middle of the park last night and proved once again why even at the age of 33, he is still considered as the best English midfielder currently. He controlled the game from the middle of the park with 72 passes (highest) with a 85% success rate, along with his 7 long balls and 6 accurate crosses. He also had the most number of interceptions (5) in the game and was brilliant in executing his defensive duties as well. He rounded-off this performance with a goal that sealed the result of this game. The above heat map shows his movement and positioning on the pitch during the game.