England dropped their first points in qualification for Qatar 2022 after a dramatic late equaliser in Warsaw.
In a feisty first half the Poles created the only real chance when Robert Lewandowski latched on to a through ball but couldn’t lift his shot over Jordan Pickford.
Harry Maguire hit the post for England in the second half before a dipping long-range drive from Harry Kane put England ahead with 18 minutes to go. That looked to have won it until a late header from Sebastian Szymanski rescued a point for Poland.
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England now lead the group by four points ahead of Albania, and will face Andorra away followed by Hungary at home in their qualifiers in October.
TALKING POINT - Can England find a way to manage tight matches?
If Robert Lewandowski was to be a factor tonight, you might have assumed it would be as finisher rather than creator. His perfect late cross for Szymanski in injury time was a classy touch worthy of one of the best players in Europe.
It also exposed again one of the main flaws in Gareth Southgate’s England. The ongoing ability to comfortably close out tight games from a winning position has dogged this team; we saw it against Colombia and Croatia in the World Cup in 2018, and against Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Even the second round victory over Germany in the latter tournament was almost tossed away when a late chance was gifted to Thomas Muller to equalise.
That wasn’t converted, but England can’t rely on opposition players missing gilt-edged chances to take the spoils in matches. If Southgate’s team are to get over the line in a major tournament, they’ll need to find the composure they currently lack at crucial junctures in big games.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
In a tight game with few chances, the quality of the Poland captain’s touches despite their scarcity really stood out. He missed a useful chance in the first half but made up for it in injury time with a superb cross to set up the equaliser.
Poland (4-4-2): Szczesny 5, Dawidowicz 6, Glik 5, Bednarek 6, Puchacz 7; Jozwiak 6, Linetty 6, Krychowiak 6, Moder 7; Buksa 6, Lewandowski 8. Subs: Swiderski 6, Szymanski 7, Frankowski 6, Helik 6, Rybus 6
England (4-3-3): Pickford 6; Walker 6, Stones 7, Maguire 6, Shaw 7; Phillips 7, Rice 6, Mount 6; Sterling 6, Kane 7, Grealish 7. Subs: N/A.
Damian Szymanski of Poland heads the ball past Jordan Pickford of England
Image credit: Getty Images
29’ CHANCE! Lewandowski wins the ball 30 yards from goal with a superb sliding tackle. He then runs on to a lofted pass from Linetty and gets to the bouncing ball first but can't connect enough to lift it over Pickford who gathers awkwardly.
61’ OFF THE POST! From the free kick a looping header from Maguire clangs the inside of the far post and bounces out. Sterling, who was in an offside position, swipes a leg at the loose ball and up goes the flag.
72’ GOAL! Poland 0-1 England (Kane): Out of nothing, England lead! Kane picks the ball up, unmarked and 30 yards from goal. He moves forward a little and hits a dipping, swerving drive past Szczesny and into the bottom corner.
81’ CLOSE! Pickford dallies over a clearance with his feet and it's charged down by Frankowski. The ball bounces towards goal and Pickford scrambles back to gather before it can cross the line. Blimey!
90+2’ GOAL! Poland 1-1 England (Szymanski): The pressure pays off! The ball ricochets around the England area and is picked up by Lewandowski on the left. He stands a perfect cross up to the back post, where Szymanski leaps to thump a header into the net from six yards out!
- Harry Kane has now scored in fifteen consecutive qualifying matches for the World Cup and European Championship.
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