While England might have been minutes away from extending on their 100% qualifying romp on Wednesday night, Gareth Southgate’s side eventually had to settle for a last-gasp point on foreign soil.
Hoping to end September’s international fixtures with another flurry after landing back-to-back 4-0 wins against Hungary and Andorra over the past week, the Three Lions put in what was a largely flat display in Warsaw.
With no away fans allowed to travel, Gareth Southgate’s side instead had to face off against a noisy home support of 58,000 as Harry Kane opened the scoring with a 30-yard strike in the second-half.
However, with AEK Athens’ Damian Szymański popping up at the far post midway into injury time, Wednesday’s hosts managed to keep up their qualifying dreams and send the home support into overdrive. On what was a fiery night at the Stadion Narodowy, we have taken a look at all the major talking points.
England drop their first Group I points
Although Gareth Southgate would have been rightfully disappointed to have seen his side suffer last-gasp heartbreak in Warsaw, the Three Lions will know that they have inched closer to a spot at next year’s World Cup finals.
Failing to find a similar level that saw them breeze past both Hungary and Andorra over the past, England were largely second-best throughout the opening 45 minutes and struggled to find much form in the final third.
A side that still might be trying to fully recover from their heartbreaking 1-0 defeat against Italy in this summer’s European Championships final, Wednesday’s guests will be relishing a brief break before returning to domestic duties this weekend.
With Southgate calling on his side to remain focused, despite their midweek stalemate on foreign soil, the Whites remain in pole position to clinch top spot in Group I. With 16 points to their name from their six qualifying contests, even their midweek collapse shouldn’t dampen the mood in their camp too much.
Kane extends on qualifying romp
Cutting a frustrated figure throughout the whole of the first-half and often popping up in the right-back position, there is no doubt that Harry Kane’s second-half stunner would have improved the England skipper’s mood.
With his heavyweight battle against Polish superstar Robert Lewandowski stealing most of the headlines ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, the Tottenham striker opened the scoring with 20 minutes left on the clock as he beat Wojciech Szczęsny from 30 yards.
Although Kane and his teammates might have failed to top a qualifying defensive record that has stood since 1966 as they shipped their injury-time equalizer, the 28-year-old did extend on his own free-scoring romp.
Bagging his 41st goal for England at the Stadion Narodowy and moving up to the fifth-highest goalscorer in Three Lions’ history, Kane also bagged what was remarkably his 15 straight qualifying goal in the build-up to both the World Cup and Euro’s.
Lewandowski helps inspire Poland
While Poland might end September’s international fixtures still sat a single point adrift of Albania and that lucrative second spot, Wednesday’s hosts have enjoyed an eye-catching run over the past fortnight.
Putting in what was a rugged, and sometimes indisciplined approach throughout their sellout meeting at the Stadion Narodowy, Paulo Sousa’s side mustered seven points from their three qualifying matchups this month and the mood in their camp should be at a real high.
Dominating the opening 45 and with their attacking icon almost breaking the deadlock as he just couldn’t edge the ball past an onrushing Jordan Pickford, Lewandowski did help his side snatch what will be remembered as an impressive point.
Playing a beautifully chipped ball from the byline as he saw Szymański head home with just two minutes left in injury-time, it is hard to argue that Poland didn’t deserve their point on Wednesday night.
Poland: Szczesny (5), Dawidowicz (6.5), Glik (5.5), Bednarek (6.5), Krychowiak (5), Puchacz (7), Moder (7.5), Linetty (6), Józwiak (6.5), Buksa (6.5), Lewandowski (7.5)
Subs: Helik (4.5), Szymanski (7.5), Frankowski (5), Rybus (5), Swiderski (6)
England: Pickford (5.5), Walker (3), Stones (4.5), Maguire (5.5), Shaw (5), Phillips (5), Rice (7), Mount (7), Sterling (6), Kane (6.5), Grealish (5.5)
Goals: Poland: Szymanski 90’+2′ – England: Kane 72′
Yellow Cards: Poland: Glik, Krychowiak, Szymansk, Linetty, Puchacz – England: Phillips, Maguire
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Daniel Siebert