WARSAW, Poland October 18 – England were held to a 1-1 draw by Poland on Wednesday in a Group H qualifier that went ahead a day late after Tuesday’s scheduled match was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
Wayne Rooney put England up fifteen minutes from half-time, heading in a corner from captain Steven Gerrard for his 30th international goal.
Poland’s answer came in the 70th minute, thanks to Torino defender Kamil Glik, courtesy of another header from a corner.
“It wasn’t one of our best performances,” admitted England manager Roy Hodgson, whose side still lead Group H by one point from Montenegro.
“As far as we’re concerned, the extra day, the extra stay, the sogginess of the pitch obviously didn’t work in our favour. It’s the same for both teams of course,” he said.
“I think sometimes in games, you’ve just got to be satisfied that you come away with something out of the game. I don’t think it’s going to be easy for teams to come here and beat Poland.”
Poland coach Waldemar Fornalik lauded his team and fans who returned having seen Tuesday’s planned encounter postponed by a deluge, an hour after the planned kick-off.
“The atmosphere in the stadium was great, the support was massive,” he said.
“We did what we’re supposed to do. We wanted to play a good game. I don’t think England played a bad game, actually.”
But Gerrard admitted it had not been one of his team’s best nights.
“It’s a decent point but we are disappointed,” he said.
Despite adding to his goal tally, Rooney was also downbeat.
“We weren’t at our best but we dug in and got a draw. We know we can play better but this is a difficult place to come so it is a decent point,” he said.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart took responsibility for the goal, having flapped as he tried to clear the corner.
“It was my fault and it cost us three points. They were knocking on the door but it was never going to open unless there was a mistake,” he said.
Conscious of their underdog image – they stand 54th in the FIFA rankings to England’s fifth – Poland took the game to their rivals from kick off.
It was midfielder Kamil Grosicki who first sent home fans’ pulses racing in the 58,000-capacity Kazimierz Gorski Stadium in the eighth minute, though poor control stymied his effort.
England took their chance after 15 minutes but James Milner’s lateral pass failed to find a team-mate before Polish goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton smothered the ball.
Working hand-in-hand with fellow midfielder Ludovic Obraniak, Grosicki continued to seek weak links in the England defence, to no avail.
Milner fed Jermain Defoe up front in the 26th minute, only for the latter to lose the battle with Poland captain Marcin Wasilewski, standing in for the injured Kuba Blaszczykowski.
Two minutes later, Poland powered back, with Grosicki finding Lewandowski in the box, only for newcomer Pawel Wszolek to fail to latch onto the pass.
A minute after Rooney’s goal, Grosicki again came up empty.
After the interval, Poland upped the pace in a drive to close the deficit, with corner-taking stalwart Obraniak firing over the bar in the 49th minute, followed by striker Robert Lewandowski 10 minutes later.
A lone run by substitute Danny Welbeck left Tyton floundering, but Rooney failed to make it two.
A 70th-minute Obraniak corner then found Glik, who earned his second Poland goal, as Hart came for the ball and was left stranded.
“It’s not every day you get to score against England. And do it at home in your national stadium, of course that’s really fantastic,” said 24-year-old Glik, who made his debut in 2010.
Three minutes from time, Milner found himself free, only for Tyton to beat him, before Obraniak pounded at Hart twice, the second time forcing the England keeper into a lunging save.
The Poles were aware history was against them having beaten England just once — in the race to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, when they deprived them of a berth at the finals — and drawn six times in a total of 17 previous meetings.