Poland vs. England: Score, Highlights and Grades
The pitch dried, the Polish dominated the run of play and after waiting a day to play, Poland and England settled on a 1-1 tie in their World Cup qualifier.
Poland often looked the superior side in the first half, pressing forward when they gained possession with their dangerous counter-attack. England facilitated the process, as the Three Lions seemed to have a particularly difficult time maintaining possession.
But England had chances of their own, and they would strike first against the run of play when Wayne Rooney put in a header off a corner kick in the 31st minute.
Poland stayed on the front foot, however, and the English defense did well to keep them off the score sheet in the first 45.
The second half was an even more one-sided affair than the first, with England sinking deeper into defense and the Polish pressing forward with more urgency. Still, England had its chances—both Rooney and Jermain Defoe botched brilliant chances to add a second goal.
That would come back to haunt the Three Lions, as Kamil Glik would beat Joleon Lescott and keeper Joe Hart (who found himself in no-man's land) with a header off a corner kick in the 70th minute.
It was a goal the Polish deserved.
Frankly, they probably deserved a win, but the game would end in a tie. Poland was the more assertive team throughout, though England deserves credit for limiting the Poles to a limited number of top-notch chances.
Let's award some grades.
The English Defense: B+
England's approach and lack of possession may have been frustrating, but Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole and Phil Jagielka played well throughout.
They managed to keep solid positioning and blocked more than a few shots. In boxing terms, they bobbed and weaved well when it became apparent they didn't have a threatening jab or hook in the arsenal.
Poland had their chances, but the English defense was a big reason why the team escaped with a tie rather than the loss they probably deserved.
Robert Lewandowski, Poland: A
While the sought-after striker didn't find the back of the net, he showed once again why half of Europe wants him. He played with a great deal of energy, his movement was probing and he kept the English defenders on the back heel.
He spearheaded just about every threat Poland mustered. There is no question he is one of the brightest young stars in European football today.
Wayne Rooney, England: C+
Take away the goal and Rooney wasn't terribly active in this match.
While he played far deeper defensively in the second half given England's strategy of sitting back and trying to absorb the Polish attack, he did have a glorious chance to score a second goal and put the match out of reach.
Instead, he sent the ball far over the bar and was soon replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Not his finest effort.
Lukasz Piszczek, Poland: B+
Piszczek was a constant headache for England on their left side as his runs forward took advantage of spaces left on the flank by England, and his ability to either shoot or chip in accurate crosses led to more than a few threats on England's goals.
Piszczek is a perfect example of the modern wide defender, able to adjust from defense to offense quickly and stretch an opponent defensively both vertically and horizontally. Another fine showing from the Borussia Dortmund man.
Joe Hart, England: B-
On one hand, Hart made some fine saves and was in fine positioning even when Poland failed to hit the target. On the other hand, he was so woefully out of position on Glik's goal and it cost his team the win.
I'll say this—Lescott was also straight-up beaten on the play, and had he been positioned better Hart's gaffe wouldn't have mattered. But for a keeper who has established himself as one of the world's best, it was an inexcusable moment.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets never need help from the refs on the goal line.
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