Poland 1-1 England: Hart error sees Three Lions held to draw
England were held to a 1-1 draw in their re-arranged World Cup qualifier against Poland after an uncharacteristic error from Joe Hart gifted their opponents a deserved point.
Wayne Rooney opened the scoring mid-way through the first half with a deflected header, but the Three Lions failed to build on that breakthrough as they struggled to exert any supremacy throughout.
Poland wasted a number of openings after the break, but they finally found the net in the 71st minute when Hart flapped at a corner and Kamil Glik gratefully headed home from close-range.
It means that Roy Hodgson’s side now lie at the top of Group H with eight points from four games, but second-placed Montenegro are just a point behind, having played a game less.
Going into a game played nearly 24 hours later than originally scheduled after the initial meeting was called off due to a waterlogged pitch, England were looking to come home from Warsaw with all three points ahead of a five-month break from competitive international games.
However, they struggled to keep possession in the opening stages of the match – a failure which dogged them throughout the game – and it was Poland who came closest to opening the scoring as Lukasz Piszczek and Kamil Grosicki both saw half-chances go begging.
Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski then flashed an effort wide as Poland gained momentum, but it was England who struck first as Rooney headed in his 32nd international goal from a Steven Gerrard corner.
Poland could have drawn level before half time when a Phil Jagielka mis-kick gave Lewandowski an opening, but Glen Johnson managed to get back to cover.
Despite failing to keep hold of the ball after the break, England had a great chance to go 2-0 up when Jermaine Defoe was left unmarked at the far post, but the Tottenham forward miscued his effort wide of goal.
Defoe was replaced by Danny Welbeck soon after and the Manchester United striker set up a great chance for club team-mate Rooney, but he fired off-target when well-placed.
Those misses proved crucial as Glik capitalised on Joe Hart’s flap from a corner to bring Poland back on level terms, with just under 20 minutes remaining.
Hodgson looked to stretch Poland by throwing on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in place of Rooney, but the Arsenal man could not help the Three Lions find the winner they craved.
“I think time will tell if it’s a decent point,” said captain Gerrard.
“The lads are disappointed. We know we can play better. After taking the lead we should have seen the game out.”
“Our points tally could be a lot better, but this is a tough place to come. I thought they handled the pitch a bit better than us.”
Laurence Taylor, football correspondent