Poor England struggle to draw in Poland

 

England were well below their best but managed to cling onto a precious point from their delayed World Cup qualifier with Poland in Warsaw.

Wayne Rooney's first half goal - his 32nd for his country - was cancelled out by Kamil Glik's header midway through the second period.

England will head into the five-month winter break from competitive action at the top of Group H - and in the cold light of day a point away to the Poles should not be viewed as a disastrous result.

But of concern to head coach Roy Hodgson will be the quality of England's performance.

This was an unconvincing display from the Three Lions, similar to some of those under Steve McClaren, and they were second best for the majority of the second half.

England were guilty of needlessly giving the ball away too often when in possession after a positive opening with Michael Carrick out of sorts in midfield.

There was a lack of width and Poland found space down their right flank to exploit.

England also lacked creativity with Jermain Defoe having one of his least effective games and it was no surprise that their goal came from a set piece.

The game eventually got under way 20 hours late after a waterlogged pitch caused the original game to be postponed last night.

This time the retractable roof was closed and ensured the match could finally be played, although the surface cut up quite significantly in parts.

Hodgson opted to persevere with the line-up he originally selected for the game with skipper Steven Gerrard and left-back Ashley Cole winning their 99th caps.

There were several hundred England fans inside the stadium although the postponement inevitably mean a sizeable proportion of the 2,500 supporters who made the original trip had returned home.

England began on the offensive and James Milner made a powerful run into the Poland box from a Gerrard knockdown.

His deep cross picked out the run of Tom Cleverley, who struck his volley cleanly enough but saw it bounce off Lukasz Piszczek to safety.

Polish midfielder Eugen Polanski became the first player to be booked in the 11th minute for bringing down Defoe.

Poland exploited space down their right flank and Joe Hart had to be alert to clear the ball away from the feet of Piszczek after he attempted to make contact with a pass from Kamil Grosicki.

Home skipper Marcin Wasilewski had to be alert to get in front of Defoe at the near post as he tried to take advantage of a low Milner ball into the danger area.

Poland seriously threatened for the first time when a poor clearance by Hart fell straight to Grosicki. He released Robert Lewandowski, who skipped past the challenge of Cleverley and into the penalty area before firing a cross-shot past the far post.

Rooney silenced the home crowd after 31 minutes when he reacted first to Gerrard's corner and glanced a header past Poland goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton into the corner of the net, via the shoulder of Piszczek.

Cole picked up his first yellow card of the qualification campaign for time-wasting after 38 minutes.

Grosicki should have done better after getting past Joleon Lescott but he screwed his shot past the post as Poland reacted positively to going behind.

A mistake by Phil Jagielka almost let in Pawel Wszolek for an equaliser two minutes into the second half. The Everton centre-back miskicked attempting to clear with Wszolek unmarked behind him but Glen Johnson slid in to retrieve the situation.

Hart had to be alert to turn over Ludovic Obraniak's powerful drive from the angle of the penalty box.

Then Piszczek was only inches off target with a low half volley which hit the side netting.

Glik was booked a minute later for handball and, from Gerrard's free-kick, Defoe miskicked at the far post.

But an equaliser was looking increasingly likely and it arrived in the 70th minute as Glik got in front of Lescott to head Obraniak's corner past Hart.

Poland looked the more likely to snatch a winner after Rooney was taken off and replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with 17 minutes remaining.

But England remained firm despite retreating deeper and deeper and have now been beaten only once in 18 meetings with the Poles.

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