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England Beat Montenegro 4-1 In Crucial World Cup Qualification!

England took a step closer to Brazil with a commanding performance against Montenegro at Wembley Friday night.

Michael Steele

For the best part of 80 minutes, this game was delicately poised. Although Montenegro had not threatened often to beat England's Joe Hart, history suggested that it wouldn't be straight forward, and despite domination, it really wasn't.

England looked to be cruising when Boskovic turned the ball into his own net in the 62nd minute but a fortunate Damjanovic goal on 71 minutes made for a nervous atmosphere inside Wembley stadium. Those nerves were vanquished in the 78th minute as star man Andros Townsend muscled his way past a tackler to unleash a strike into the bottom corner to make it 3-1 and put the game to bed.

Andros Townsend was somewhat a surprise selection, with the reliable James Milner and Jack Wilshere on the bench, however he repaid the managers faith with a man of the match performance. It was a star debut for the promising Tottenham winger who looked as dangerous as I've seen an England winger in close to a decade.

He was strong, direct, powerful, fast and he never left Kyle Walker out to dry, constantly tracking back. This England team has fight and spirit and refused to be beaten. If they lose the football, there would be a crowd of white shirts around the red of Montenegro wanting to win the ball back. Now with a victory on Tuesday against Poland, England will cement their place at the World Cup Finals in Brazil next summer.

England dominated much of the first half possession, but couldn't find that killer pass to break through a resilient defense.  The best chance falling to Rooney who could only hit the side netting after Townsend cut inside onto his right foot and unleashed a strike that could only be parried into the Manchester United man's path. Gerrard and Welbeck had half chances that were deflected wide and Sturridge saw an effort come off his shoulder and bounce harmlessly wide. With Joe Hart largely a spectator, England went into the break needing inspiration.

That inspiration came when Townsend sprinted down the right flank in the 48th minute, his cross found its way to Danny Welbeck who's shot was parried into the path of Rooney who slotted home beneath Montenegro keeper Poleksic to make it 1-0. The second strike came from good play by Sturridge down the left, his cheeky backheel finding Welbeck, his pull-back finding it's way into the net by way of midfielder Boskovic.

To Montenegro's credit, they responded through Jovetic striking the England bar, and it was Jovetic's shot that was turned in by Damjanovic in the 71st minute. For seven minutes, you could understand why England fans were nervous, we have seen this story far too many times before. However after Sturridge worked hard to retrieve the ball, Townsend picked it up 15 yards inside the Montenegro half, slid away from one challenge and unleashed a drive into the bottle corner that gave Poleksic no chance.

As the game started to wind down, England continued to push forward showing a killer instinct that has been lacking for far too long. Daniel Sturridge's hard work paid off in injury time as he skipped past Ivan Kecojevic who could only bring him down. The Liverpool striker calmly sent the keeper the wrong way to get the goal his hard work deserved.

England deserved the victory and in the end they ran out comfortable winners, however they were made to pay for it. Poland should present a much tougher test on Tuesday, however England go into the match knowing that a victory will book their place at next years World Cup.