Manager Roy Hodgson sprang a real surprise with his team
selection for this vital match against
by picking the in-form Andros Townsend on the right-wing.
Eyebrows were raised by many, but boy, did his
idea pay dividends.
Right from the start
looked really sharp and ready for the battle.
There was lots of passing and movement in the early stages and
the front men looked very lively.
In the second minute Danny Welbeck shot over from
England's first opening, and both
Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge continually probed the visiting
meanwhile, looked especially lively and was really enjoying his
elevation to the England
team. He was so positive
going forward and his pace, and link up with Kyle Walker, was a
feature of the match. In
fact the pace of the whole of England's
attack promised much and Montenegro
were doing well to hang on.
The only thing that was missing was the final finish.
Another lightening break down the right between
Walker and Townsend ended with Steven Gerrard's tame cross, and then
Rooney saw a chance only for his shot to be deflected wide.
The pressure continued down the right, but
England's left wing was prominent too
with Leighton Baines making some superb runs.
were relying on the odd breakaway, but their main gameplan was to keep
ten men behind the ball and invite
to break them down.
In the 14th minute a bad pass by Frank
Lampard let in the visiting number eight Stevan Jovetic, but his shot
went harmlessly wide.
Then, at the other end, Baines saw his inswinging free-kick punched
had to be patient, and also guard against the breakaways, Gary Cahill
and Phil Jagielka were looking solid at the back though, and snuffed
out any signs of danger quickly by intercepting efficiently where
necessary. Joe Hart had
little to do but play the extra sweeper role if he had to.
On 16 minutes a great
move involving Townsend, Sturridge and Lampard ended with Gerrard
shooting a good chance over the bar.
Then six minutes later brilliant play by Baines set up Welbeck
and this time the Manchester United striker made the goalkeeper work,
but Vukasin Poleksic was equal to the task with a solid block.
The referee was allowing a good deal of bumping and boring in
the area and twice England
half-heartedly appealed for penalties as both Welbeck and Sturridge
were stopped. But the ref
would have none of it, although to be fair, replays showed they might
have both had a case.
As the game wore on
increased the pressure whilst
Welbeck might have done better with a headed chance which actually
went wide off his shoulder, and then the best move so far saw
Gerrard's shot tipped around a post by Poleksic.
On 39 minutes England
created their best chance of the first half after a flowing move.
Lampard found Rooney whose first time ball sent Townsend away
yet again. He cut inside
and fired in a shot, only for the keeper to parry the ball back
towards the incoming Rooney.
Unfortunately Rooney's shot hit the outside of the post with
both Sturridge and Welbeck waiting for a pull-back.
finished the half on a high as Walker, Sturridge and Townsend combined
again for Welbeck to shoot, the ball being deflected wide.
Then Sturridge had a chance from Rooney's cross, but he tried
to be too clever with a back-heeled finish when perhaps a straight
forward right foot should have made contact.
totally dominant but lacking that final finish.
Surely though it would only be a matter of time before the
breakthrough came. The one
criticism of the first half was England's
lack of penetration from set plays, something they may need to work
Within three minutes of the restart though,
were ahead. Another
brilliant positive run down the right by Townsend left defenders
trailing in his wake. As
his cross came in it was deflected towards the advancing Welbeck, who
fired in a shot from 18 yards.
Poleksic blocked the ball but the rebound was superbly
controlled by Rooney, who then swivelled and shot under the diving
keeper's body. That goal
opened the game up a little and Savo Pavcevic was booked for a foul on
Welbeck as frustration set in for the visitors.
were really struggling to cope with the pace of
England's attacks and Vladimir Volkov
became the second player booked.
The hat-trick of bookings came when Walker was also yellow
carded for a silly challenge that will now keep him out of the next
match, much to the manager's obvious annoyance.
On 55 minutes Hart had to make his first save, a
good one from a glancing header from Dejan Damjonovic, but generally
it was all England.
Townsend saw a shot saved, and then
went 2-0 up thanks to a bizarre own goal.
Sturridge's superb backheel sent Welbeck galloping away, and as
the number nine tried to tee Sturridge up Branko Boscovic got there
first, but he only succeeded in slicing the ball wide of the keeper
into his own net.
don't normally get too many gifts given to them, but this time the
whole stadium was ready to accept this one!
Just a minute later though, Montenegro almost pulled a goal
back, when Jovetic fired in a tremendous shot which had Hart groping,
luckily for England it cannoned back off the crossbar.
On 63 minutes Lampard had a shot that flew over,
and he was immediately subbed, with Michael Carrick coming on to
still pressed forward and Rooney set up his skipper for another
attempt that went wide, before Welbeck so nearly scored from a Baines
corner. Rooney was only a whisker away from another Baines cross and
Welbeck was just as close to a Townsend cross.
Then, against the run of play
snatched a surprise goal.
With 20 minutes to go Fatos Beciraj was allowed to fire in a shot,
which was going wide until Damjonovic stuck out a foot to deflect it
wide of the helpless Hart.
fans were understandably nervous at this stage as they knew how often
have a habit of making life difficult for themselves.
But the team stayed calm and they continued to press forward.
78 minutes came the game's best moment.
Townsend, who had been a revelation all evening, was given
possession after Welbeck's determination.
The Spurs player had just the one thought in his mind, and he
drove purposely at the defence before unleashing a terrific bending
left-foot shot that flew in off the post.
What a way to celebrate your debut!
It was almost his last contribution as Hodgson took him off and
the player left to a deserved standing ovation.
Jack Wilshere and James Milner came on for
Townsend and Gerrard respectively and those two players combined to
set up a fourth goal in the third minute of added time.
Sturridge received the final pass from Milner and as he had
done all night, he attacked the defenders.
This time he was brought down by Ivan Kecojevic, and it was
Sturridge who calmly slotted home the resultant penalty.
It was a deserved goal for the Liverpool
player and made the scoreline a little more realistic on the balance
did everything right on the night and everyone played their part, what
more can you ask for? A
win over Poland