England 2 Poland 0

By Paul Lagan
Last updated : 15 October 2013

England are going Rio. Wayne Rooney and captain marvel Steven Gerrard scored the decisive strikes, one in each half to send the Three Lions into delirium and into next year's World Cup Finals in Brazil.

Nothing but a victory would be enough to secure top spot in Group H and a night of nerves evaporated when the Manchester United hit man scored three minutes before the break.
Liverpool midfielder Gerrard put an end to a nervy last few minutes to scoop the ball over Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny.
Poland certainly were not overawed and in Robert Lewandowski, they had a player who could piece any defence.
Make no mistake Poland had chances, England held firm, with Chelsea's Gary Cahill imperious at centre back.
Frank Lampard started on the bench but was called upon with 20 minutes to go and just as Poland looked like getting a foothold back into the game.
Both sides started gingerly, Michael Carrick losing possession with his first touch.
Daniel Sturridge had the first shot on five minutes, but he was well smothered by Kamil Glik.
Danny Welbeck snuck in at the near post to glance a Leighton Baines byline cross towards Wojciech Szczesny, near post but he tipped it round the post.
Poland hot man Robert Lewandowski ran the length of the England half before letting fly, but his left-footer lacked pace and Joe Hart easily collected the ball.
A minute later, on 10 minutes, and Spurs's Andros Townsend forced a fine save from Arsenal's Szczesny with a drive from just outside the Poland penalty area.
Waldemar Sobota have the 20,000 Polish fans a cheer when they thought he had score at Hart's near post following a quick breakaway, but he hit the side-netting instead.
Chris Smalling should have put the Three Lions ahead on 21 minutes, but the Manchester United defender failed to get a touch into a smart Steven Gerrard free-kick.
Quite how Robert Lewandowski failed to score a minute later on a quick counter-attack is anybodies guess, but the Borussia Dortmund striker screwed the ball across Hart and out for a goal kick as the match ebbed to-and-fro.
England then rattled the Polish crossbar on 27 minutes when Townsend produced a curling left-footer from 20-yards out that had Szczesny well beaten, but the ball rebounded off the woodwork.
Carrick then did well to put off Robert Lewandowski after he looked set to head home from a corner. The ball instead glanced off the striker's head to safety.
Welbeck then had the goal at his feet but shot wide from six yards albeit through a melee of defenders.
Szczesny then hooked the ball away from Welbeck as England piled on the pressure 10 minutes from the break, but still Poland proved resolute in defence.
But eventually the pressure paid off and Wayne Rooney put England one foot closer to Rio on 42 minutes with an excellent header from eight yards out after Baines produced a devastating cross from the left wing.
Rooney got between the two centre-backs and arrowed the ball wide of Szczesny.
Sobota thought he had equalised two minutes later when he calmly curled the ball past Hart from close range, but the striker was adjusted to has strayed just offside.
Poland made one change bringing on Mateusz Klich for the Mariusz Lewandowski, and the sub almost scored with his first touch a minute later. But his shot, on target was charged down by Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill.
The visitors put England under early pressure but the stout yeoman at the back stood firm.
Artur Wojtkowiak almost put in his own goal after pressure from Welbeck and a minute later, on 51 minutes, Cahill saw a glancing header go inches wide.
Grzegorz. Krychowiak almost succeeded where Jedrzejczyk failed and score an own goal, but his lunge to intercept a Rooney pass, inched wide of Szczesny's goal on 55 minutes.
Hart spared England's blushes when he somehow managed to get his body to block Lewandowski's clipped shot after he beat the offside trap. The Manchester city man was quick to see the move and raced to the edge of his area to intercept the Polish striker.
The second Polish subsitution came on 65 minutes with Slawomir Peszko on for Sobota.
Rooney almost doubled the score on 67 minutes but Szczesny was equal to the curler from outside the penalty area and tipped the ball clear .
England manager Roy Hodgson decided that a change was needed I midfield to shore up the Polish counter-attacks and Carrick made way for Chelsea's Frank Lampard with 20 minutes to go.
Poland's final substitution came with15 minutes to go, Piotir Zielinski entered the fray for Adrian Mierzejewski.
Lampard and Jedrzejczyk entered ref Damir Skomina book for needless fouls.
Rooney followed on 80 minutes.
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere was next to come on for Sturridge, on 82 minutes, to solidify the midfield even more.
England's final replacement saw James Milner come on for Townsend with four minutes remaining as the majority of he 85,186 fans sensed that the dying seconds of the match might yet prove decisive.
And so it proved as on an England break out, skipper Gerrard cut in-between two defenders and clipped the ball over Szczesny to sent England to next year's World Cup Finals in Brazil.


Teams
England: Hart, Smalling, Baines, Gerrard, Cahill, Jagielka,Townsend, Carrick, Sturridge, Rooney, Welbeck
Subs: Jones, Ruddy, Gibbs, Wilshere, Lamoard, Milner, Barkley, Defoe, Sterling, Lambert, Forster

Poland: Szczesny, Wojtkowiak, Jedrzejczyk, Glik, CelebAn, Blaszzykowski, Mierzejewski, Krychowiak, Sobota, Lewandowski (Mariusz), Lewandowski (Robert)
Subs: Boruc, Fabianski, Wasilewski, Polanski, Jodlowiec, Zielinski, Peszko, Rzezniczak, Sobiech, Wawrzyniak, Klich

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)

Chelsea Match Reports


Trending on the boards