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Montenegro vs. England: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

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Montenegro vs. England: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

England failed to hold on to a slim lead in its UEFA 2014 World Cup qualifier against Montenegro, as the match ended in a 1-1 draw. 

Roy Hodgson's squad recorded an 8-0 rout of San Marino over the weekend, and their goal-scoring form continued immediately in this match. 

Just six minutes in, the usual suspects delivered for England when Steven Gerrard's impeccable corner kick made it's way onto Wayne Rooney's head, and the Manchester United star gave his side an early lead. 

England were the clear aggressors in the first half, but the momentum somehow reversed itself while the two teams were in the locker room during halftime. Montenegro dominated the final 45 minutes. 

The hosts closed down on the English players and refused to allow them to maintain possession.

This led to a barrage of shots on Joe Hart's goal, and while the goalkeeper did well, Montenegro broke through in the 76th minute. Dejan Damjanovic was able to tap in a loose ball in the box after Hart had delivered a fine save. 

England showed signs of life in the closing minutes of the match, but were unable to truly threaten to grab a game-winner. 

 

Grades

Wayne Rooney, England: B+

This will be the toughest match England faces in this group. Montenegro is easily the second-best team, and the Three Lions were playing away. 

Given the circumstances, this match could not have started any better. Rooney deserves plenty of credit for ensuring that he did not waste an opportunity to give his team an early advantage. 

Michael Regan/Getty Images

 

Stevan Jovetic, Montenegro: A-

Jovetic is having a fine season and has proved to be one of the most dynamic attackers in Serie A. He showed off his skill and creativity in this match against a depleted English back line. 

However, Montenegro put a significant amount of pressure on Joe Hart's goal at the start of the second half, and given the amount of time his team had possession in dangerous areas, he should have been able to produce better opportunities. 

 

Steven Gerrard, England: B+

Starting fast was vastly important for England in this match, and without an early goal, they could have easily lost this match. 

This team needs Gerrard's leadership and experience in crucial away matches such as this one, and he delivered with an assist in the opening moments. He also produced a couple excellent chances late in the match, but was unable to be the team's savior. 

 

Mirko Vucinic, Montenegro: B

Vucinic was constantly lurking around England's penalty area and was able to test Hart multiple times. He was unfortunate not to have beaten the English keeper on a few of his chances. 

Michael Regan/Getty Images

His constant pressure helped give his team the momentum to climb back and tie the game, but had he been slightly sharper with his finishing, Montenegro likely would have won the match. 

 

Joe Hart, England: B

Hart made a fine instinctive save just before the goal, but England could not clear after a mad scramble for the rebound, and it ended up with the ball in the back of his net. 

He was not spectacular in this match, but there isn't much more Hodgson could have asked from him. The blame for losing the lead does not lie with him. 

 

What's Next

Neither of these teams will be playing another World Cup qualifier for some time. Montenegro will make their return first with a home match against Ukraine on June 7. 

England will play their next qualifier on September 6 at home against Moldova. 

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