England 2 Poland 0 analysis: Chris Smalling proved he is not an international full-back

Five things we learned from Wembley win

1. A foreign takeover of Wembley can actually be a good thing

If it was not obvious before, everyone could tell when an offside Waldemar Sobota beat Joe Hart in the final minutes before the interval and nearly half the ground went up. There were far more than 20,000 Poland fans in the south-east corner. There must have been nearly double that, spread throughout the home fans.

But the Football Association's relaxed approach to segregation in order to create an atmosphere paid off. This was one of the more memorable Wembley nights, and the England players looked far more comfortable in this real football atmosphere than they do in Wembley's occasionally odd, anxious silences.

2. Michael Carrick's midfield presence gives England more zip

Just as the decision to pick Andros Townsend was vindicated on Friday with a goal, so was Roy Hodgson's choice of Michael Carrick against the Poles. Carrick's brisk passing helped give England more tempo in midfield than they often have, not least for the opening goal, when his first-time, left-footed ball to Leighton Baines in space gave the full-back a chance to cross to Wayne Rooney before Poland's defence had a chance to reorganise.

The only problem was that Carrick's fading influence in the second half meant that Frank Lampard was brought on to replace him as England tried to close out the final 20 minutes.

3. Chris Smalling is definitely not an international full-back

While the selection of Carrick was justified, Hodgson's other decision – Chris Smalling over Phil Jones at right-back – was not such an obvious success. Smalling, in his defence, is not a specialist right-back, and he was never going to be as comfortable as Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker, but England were left short by their absences in both attack and defence.

Smalling did not have the pace or the instincts to be an overlapping threat down the right flank, limiting England's attacking options. At the back, he was pulled out of position and beaten more than once by Sobota. Johnson and Walker will be welcomed back.

4. Robert Lewandowski would have lit up the Premier League

His decision is understandable, but what a shame for the Premier League that Robert Lewandowski is likely to join Bayern Munich in the summer. He showed again just how dangerous he is, with speed of movement that desperately worried England throughout.

Twice in the first half he broke up the pitch from England corners, once carrying the ball 70 yards, the other skewing agonisingly wide with his left foot. In the second half, he forced Phil Jagielka into one desperate clearance after Joe Hart had charged out and was very unluckily penalised when through. Everyone knows what he can do with better team-mates.

5. Steven Gerrard's ability to play to the occasion has not dimmed

If the last few years of Steven Gerrard have felt like a low-key fading from the brilliance of his twenties, he reminded everyone here of his ability to bend the very biggest occasions his way. To score such a brilliant and individual goal, storming through tackles before lifting the ball over Wojciech Szczesny, in the penultimate minute of the final World Cup qualifier, to seal qualification, and doing so as captain, must be one of the most Gerrardian moments of his entire career. If there had been a gap in his international achievements, there is not one any more.

News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer was final surviving member of seminal punk band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice