England scored a late winning goal against Poland at Wembley on Wednesday evening to take their winning run in World Cup qualification to three.
The hosts claimed the lead midway through the first-half as Harry Kane converted from the penalty spot after Raheem Sterling was fouled by Michal Helik. They were pegged back just before the hour mark though as Jakub Moder profited from a John Stones mistake to power home.
The Three Lions were not to be denied though as Harry Maguire thundered home a fantastic winner in the 85th minute to extend England’s perfect start to qualifying.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Stones’ mistakes return but redemption is impressive
Since his move to Manchester City from Everton, defender John Stones had developed a reputation of committing costly fouls. Indeed, the 26-year-old has made seven errors directly leading to a goal throughout his career. However, he finally appeared to have ironed those out with the former Barnsley men having been in exemplary form for the Sky Blues this season – form that has seen his club seize control of top spot in the table.
The old Stones appeared to be back in action for the Three Lions. He dawdled on the ball for far too long, with it then being stolen by Moder. The Pole then played a one-two before lashing high into the net, leaving Stones with a rueful look on his face.
Whilst Stones will certainly be disappointed with his error, the way he reacted to it was certainly impressive. He played a key role in the eventual winning goal, heading straight into the path of Maguire to lash home.
Poland’s impressive record without Lewandowski halted
With the news breaking before the match that Robert Lewandowski was not going to be available for the away side, England will have felt boosted. After all, the striker has been one of the most lethal players in the entirety of world football and has scored 43 more goals than anyone else in his country’s history.
Nonetheless, Poland will not have felt too aggrieved having only lost just one of their last six matches in all competitions in which the Bayern Munich hitman has not appeared. However, they did certainly miss him at Wembley Stadium and could not extend that particularly impressive record.
Starting pairing of Arkadiusz Milik and Krzysztof Piątek really struggled to produce any real goal threat whatsoever, with the visitors having just three shots and getting just one on target. It was certainly a tough ask for his side to find any sort of rhythm against an England side who have not yet conceded a qualifying goal but Paulo Sousa will certainly be wanting more in the absence of Lewandowski.
England take control of the group
Whilst it was certainly not the most inspiring win from the Three Lions by any stretch of the imagination, Southgate will certainly feel like it was an important one.
Looking at the group, Poland were probably the most difficult opponents that they were set to play throughout qualification. Following their three consecutive wins though at the start of the qualification campaign and of course the victory on Wednesday, they now sit five points clear of the Poles which sets them firmly on the route to securing a ticket to the 2022 World Cup.
England: Pope (7); Chilwell (6), Stones (6), Maguire (8), Walker (6); Rice (6), Phillips (6), Mount (7); Foden (6) (James (N/A), 86′), Sterling (6) (Lingard (N/A), 90′), Kane (7) (Calvert-Lewin (N/A), 89′).
Poland: Szczesny (6); Helik (5) (Jozwiak (6), 54′), Bednarek (6), Glik (6), Moder (7); Zielinski (6) (Grosicki (N/A), 86′), Krychowiak (6), Rybus (6) (Reca (N/A), 86′); Bereszynski (6), Piatek (6) (Augustyniak (N/A), 77′), Swiderski (5), Milik (5).
Goals: Kane (19′ PEN), Moder (58′), Maguire (85′)
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
Yellow Cards: Milik (46′)
Red Cards: N/A
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