Tuesday, October 15, 2013
England's start was fairly shaky with poor marking forcing the defenders to correct their mistakes with last-second dramatic tackles, perhaps a secret tactic by Roy Hodgson to fire up the Wembley crowd with some good old fashioned English physicality. If it was a secret tactic it was a risky one, as Lewandowski put one of the best chances of the match wide, almost giving the lead to Poland. Lewandowski and Błaszczykowski were the primary sources of danger for Poland, both of them using their speed to counter-attack whenever England got too comfortable.
As for England, it was Andros Townsend providing England with its biggest opportunities. His incessant running on the right side provided the forwards some great chances from his crosses. After earning England a multitude of corners, Towsnsend curled a swooping shot onto the crossbar with Szczęsny stopping Sturridge's shot which followed. The other England player playing with the same hunger and vivacity as Townsend was on the other flank, Baines was constantly slipping in behind the Polish right side eventually providing Rooney a perfectly placed cross to head in for the lead.
As the second half commenced England never managed to find the intensity they had in the first half. Roy Hodgson tried to solve this problem by replacing the fairly inert Carrick with Frank Lampard, yet his side still couldn't quite achieve a smooth attacking flow. Sturridge was taken off with about ten minutes left, giving Jack Wilshere a chance to knit together the midfield alongside the final substitute of James Milner who replaced a tired Townsend a few minutes later. As the minutes ticked away to the end of the game, in the 88th minute Steven Gerrard secured England's place in the 2014 World Cup with a direct run through the heart of the polish defence, poking the ball into the back of the net for the final result of 2-0.
There was a lot of nervous negativity before these two crucial matches for England, but Hodgson has shown that his England side can play with a surprising amount of attacking fluidity. While there are some possible worries regarding some of the defending, there's still plenty of time until England have to travel to Brazil.
What did you think of England's performance against Poland? Share your thoughts in the comments below!