Game in a sentence
England pay dearly for cowardly play that sees Poland net a second half equalizer and prevent the visitors from cementing their place in Rio.
- The water logged pitch that caused this game to be postponed for a day remained slightly wet and less than stellar. I’ll always remember you, roofgate. Wayne Rooney’s header off a corner in the 32nd minute put England ahead early. With this their toughest group fixture, the three lions would’ve been home free had the scoreline held.
- The trio of Robert Lewandowski, Kamil Grosicki and Lukasz Piszczek dominated England on the right side. I lost count how many times Piszczek owned Ashley Cole on the flank, it happened often. Meanwhile Leighton Baines sat on the bench waiting for a turn.
- Poor pitch conditions didn’t make passing easy, but England’s obsession with 40 yard kick and pray balls made the first half difficult to watch. There were moments – albeit brief – when Milner, Gerrard and Rooney combined to form something resembling competent midfield play but they were fleeting. Where are thou, quality.
Loving these 40yd passes to no-one by England so far.Such modern football, really fooling Poland too.
— James Sharman (@jamessharman) October 17, 2012
- The second half opened with promise as Poland’s search for an equalizer opened up the game. Ludovic Obraniak began launching long range strikes that required some excellent keeping from Joe Hart. Despite Hart’s heroics, an equalizer was coming.
- Danny Welbeck replaced Jermain Defoe – who bottled a sitter shortly before – in the 67th minute. Roy Hodgson adopted a 4-5-1 formation with Welbeck the lone striker. Parking the bus with 23 minutes left, away, is a tough ask of a team that isn’t defensively adept. Though a counter attack by James Miler nearly led to a second goal, the strategy would turn a good trip into a mediocre one.
- Kamil Glik’s goal in the 70th minute – off of a corner as well – was the product of poor keeping from Hart and Phil Jagielka’s “I’m covering no one” strategy. Is there a more inconsistent keeper than Hart right now? There are gems – Real Madrid comes to mind – and gaffes. Exciting for some, heart attack inducing for others.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s introduction late in the game added pace and creativity to a squad that sorely needs it. I understand his development into a permanent starter will take time, but Hodgson must do better in acknowledging the faults of his team early on. In the final twenty England created more chances than they did 70 minutes prior. Bring the kids on earlier.
- In the end Poland deserved the point while England may consider themselves lucky to leave with one after a poor performance. Gerrard and Miler were Hodgson’s best players. England sit atop Group H with 8 points – though they’ve played one extra game. Poland trail Montenegro by two, setting up a huge clash between Poland and Ukraine in March.
- England will continue to make tournaments by beating less talented teams in the process. But the negative football they currently employ isn’t good enough to beat the powers. Frankly, isn’t good enough to get results against nations that get better by the match – Poland included.
1. Ludovic Obraniak
2. Kamil Glik
3. Steven Gerrard