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UEFA World Cup qualifying: Montenegro 1 England 1

England were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Group H leaders Montenegro in their World Cup qualifier in Podgorica on Tuesday.

Wayne Rooney struck early in the first half but the hosts came back at England in the second, with Dejan Damjanovic equalising in the 76th minute.

The result sees England stay second in Group H, two points behind Montenegro.

The last time England visited Podgorica, a Fabio Capello-led side let a two-goal lead slip, with Rooney receiving his marching orders for a stamp in the second half.

The Manchester United forward seemed determined to make amends for that and he struck the post with a crafty chip from distance after two minutes.

A determined Rooney would not be denied at the second time of asking as, four minutes later, the 27-year-old took full advantage of non-existent marking at the far post to head home from a corner.

It was the perfect start for the visitors – and more was to come.

On 24 minutes, England almost doubled their lead as Danny Welbeck and Rooney just failed to combine on the counter-attack.

Welbeck threatened again on the stroke of half-time as he broke into the Montenegro penalty area only to be brought down by Stefan Savic.

But referee Jonas Eriksson showed Welbeck a yellow card for diving, ignoring shouts for a penalty.

Roy Hodgson’s side were in control as the opening half drew to a close, with the hosts struggling to venture out of their own half and unable to create chances.

But the hosts came out a different team after the break and they almost grabbed an instant equaliser after Stevan Jovetic’s far-post header shook the side-netting on 47 minutes.

Marko Basa then came close with a header of his own before Jovetic and Mirko Vucinic fired wide and over respectively.

Juventus forward Vucinic came even closer 12 minutes later as he curled a controlled shot just wide of Joe Hart’s left post.

The England number one was then tested by a 20-yard strike from Jovetic before a Steven Gerrard deflection sent the ball crashing against his own post.

But England could not hold on for much longer and Damjanovic poked home after a goalmouth scramble on 76 minutes.

England duly responded and pushed for a winner, with Gerrard forcing Mladen Bozovic into action twice late on.

But the scores remained level and an uphill task now awaits England if they want to avoid a World Cup qualification playoff.

Tue 26 March, 2013
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