Well it took long enough didn’t it? A game that was meant to kick off at 7:45pm on the 16th October actually kicked off at 4pm on the 17th after a rain forced the game to be postponed, this in a stadium with a roof that closes fully…
Adrian Chiles et al attempted valiantly to keep us sane last night as we sat watching the rain fall. We were continually told “when the roof closes it takes 20 minutes for the pitch to dry” but the roof was never closed. We watched as referee Gianluca Rocchi walked out onto the pitch, dropped a ball that didn’t bounce and then walked back into the tunnel only to return and do it again a few minutes later. The most entertainment we got last night was watching the fans who decided to run onto the pitch and slide on the water. Their reward for an internationally recognised water slide will have been earned them at least one night in a Polish prison, something I imagine they did not enjoy, but at least they were trying to entertain us!
Once the football actually began it is arguable that the watersliding fans were more fun. England’s performance was laboured and lacked cohesion, time after time the ball was given away and the Poles were invited to attack. Yet somehow Roy Hodgson’s men went in at the break 1-0 up. Wayne Rooney diverted a Steven Gerrard corner into the net, partially with his head and partially with his shoulder; but they all count. However, the goal changed very little as in the second half England continued to give the ball away but continued to escape punishment as a mixture of last ditch defending and Polish futility looked to have the 3 points heading home with Hodgson.
Jermain Defoe, through no fault of his own a passenger for much of the game, has a chance to double the visitors lead after he made a clever run to meet a Gerrard free kick in space but skewed his shot wide. It was his last contribution before he was replaced by Danny Welbeck. The Manchester United forward was instantly involved, poking the ball past Przemyslaw Tyton, his touch forced him wide and Welbeck’s pullback was put over the bar by Rooney.
Finally England were punished. Polish playmaker Ludovic Obraniak floated a corner kick into the penalty area and when Joe Hart came off his line but failed to claim the ball Kamil Glik couldn’t really miss; he didn’t and with 20 minutes to play the game was back level at 1-1. England brought on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in an attempt to get a winner and he provided some impetus but it was too little too late and the game ended in a draw.
The result leaves England topping the group just 1 point above Montenegro who secured an impressive 1-0 in Ukraine yesterday. Montenegro have a game in hand on England but it has to be said that Hodgson’s men are in a commanding position in the group.
England’s next game comes in a friendly against Sweden with the next World Cup qualification game coming against San Marino next year.