Poland 1-1 England
Wednesday, 17 October, 2012
England settle for a point in Poland to end 2012 on top of Group H
By Nicholas Veevers
England collected a point in Poland at the second attempt on Wednesday, as their World Cup qualifiers in 2012 were brought to an end in Warsaw.
Following the initial postponement of the game on Tuesday evening due to a waterlogged pitch, the teams finally managed to meet less than 24 hours later, with the National Stadium roof in place this time, to share the points.
And that ensured Roy Hodgson’s men end the year on top of Group H after Wayne Rooney’s first-half header was cancelled out by an almost carbon-copy goal from Kamil Glick with 20 minutes remaining.
It was a sluggish match at times, with neither side ever getting into full stride.
But given the pattern of play for large parts of the game and with a passionate home crowd behind Poland throughout, Hodgson and his men will be happy to leave Warsaw with a result under their belts.
After a high-tempo start from the hosts, Poland’s first chance came when Jakub Wawrzyniak pulled a low cross back into the area for Kamil Grosicki, but his mis-hit shot was blocked by Joleon Lescott and the danger was cleared.
Joe Hart then made a brave block four minutes later to deny Lukascz Pisczek.
The right-back’s surging run forward ended with him almost latching onto Robert Lewandowski’s pass into the box but Hart was alert enough to read the danger and save at his feet.
The impressive Lewandowski then fired a shot wide of the far post from a tight angle on the right, after England had squandered possession in their own half.
But that only sparked the Three Lions into action.
Steven Gerrard won a corner on the left following good work by Tom Cleverley and when the captain swung over his flag-kick, Rooney fashioned enough space to direct a header, via his shoulder, beyond Przemyslav Tyton and into the corner to put his side ahead.
Hodgson would have undoubtedly wanted an improved display from his team in the second half, but within two minutes of the restart it took a finely timed challenge in the area from Glen Johnson to thwart Eugen Polanski’s low cross.
And that was a sign of things to come, as Poland continued to press forward.
Hart had to tip a Lewandwoski effort over the bar before Pisczek drilled a shot wide of the post.
It was another Gerrard set-piece that caused Poland a problem five minutes past the hour-mark when his cross from the right picked out lone-striker Jermain Defoe in space at the far post.
But the Tottenham hitman’s volley back into the danger zone was missed by everyone and the hosts cleared the danger.
Defoe was duly replaced by Danny Welbeck and the Manchester United man almost made an instant impact.
He led an England counter attack into the area and beat Tyton to the ball before laying back to Rooney who shot well over the bar.
England went on to regret that miss as Poland won a corner of their own a minute later.
And when Ludovic Obraniak swung a cross over, Hart came to collect but was beaten to the ball by Glik, who planted a firm header home to bring Poland level.
A second attacking substitution from Hodgson saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replace Rooney and he gave England new impetus and a different option in the final third.
But despite the visitors’ increased possession during the later stages, Poland proved solid in keeping them at arm’s length with only a dangerous late low cross from James Milner forcing Tyton into a smart save.
It was largely the same at the other end too, with set-pieces looking the most likely outlet for Poland as a point apiece proved to be the final outcome.