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England 2-0 Poland: England Qualify For The 2014 World Cup

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England are going to Brazil!

Laurence Griffiths

England headed into the game needing a positive performance and a win to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next summer. We would have taken a win, but we got both. For 85 minutes the nerves for there for all to see, but a determined run by Steven Gerrard ensured there would be no last minute disappointment.

Despite the performance, the FA will come under scrutiny for their decision to grant Poland 18,000 tickets, double the normal allotment. The reasoning was logical, granting them more away tickets would ensure Polish fans did not purchase home tickets. However at times the game felt like an away contest for the three lions, and that is as a direct result of the 18,000 Polish fans sitting together.

Regardless this will go down as a great performance and a deserved three points. England navigated the campaign without losing a single game, winning 6 and drawing 4 of the 10 qualifying matches. They will take their place in the draw for the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer, although they won't be a top seed.

England dominated the first half picking up where they left off against Montenegro. Andros Townsend again repaid Roy Hodgson's faith with a positive display that tormented the Polish defence from the moment he stepped onto the field to his substitution in the 86th minute.

In scenes reminiscent of the 1974 World Cup qualifier, England peppered the Polish goal with Arsenal keeper Szczesny on fine form, thwarting Townsend, Rooney and Sturridge in quick succession. England looked to have taken the lead when an Androw Townsend effort from outside the box beat the keeper, only for it to cannon back off the crossbar.

At times England were susceptible to the break as they continued to commit men forward to get that all important first goal. With news Ukraine were 3-0 up in San Marino there was an urgency to England's football and for the first time in many years, we were playing some free-slowing attacking football.

The breakthrough came in the 41st minute as Leighton Baines delivered a beautiful cross for Rooney to nod home and settle the home-crowd.

Poland came flying out of the blocks in the 2nd half with substitute Klich having two opportunities to equalise.  However England soon settled into their stride and the Poland goal continued to come under immense pressure with Szczesny making some fantastic saves and defender Jedrzejczyk making numerous last ditch tackles.

England fans could be forgiven for thinking the worst as England failed to put the game to head. However captain Steven Gerrard settled all nerves as he burst into the box following a lofted pass from James Milner to chip Szczesny and send the stadium into complete rapture.

The important thing is that England will be playing in Brazil in 2014, and we now have a year to find the perfect squad!

Final World Cup Qualifying Standings

Team Matches Won Lost Drawn Points
England (Q) 10 6 0 4 22
Ukraine (PL) 10 6 1 3 21
Montenegro 10 4 3 3 15
Poland 10 3 3 4 13
Moldova 10 3 5 2 11
San Marino 10 0 10 0