England kept close tabs on Robert Lewandowski all evening
England kept close tabs on Robert Lewandowski all evening

Gareth Southgate's England were denied a perfect week as a stoppage-time equaliser salvaged a point for Poland in Warsaw.

Tempers had threatened to boil over as the half-time whistle blew when Kamil Glik and Harry Maguire clashed, with the pair both shown yellow cards.

England were kept at bay for 72 minutes until skipper Harry Kane blasted home an effort from range that swerved and deceived Wojciech Szczesny.

The Three Lions appeared happy with their work as they set about defending the lead instead of pushing for a second goal to kill the game. 

And they were punished when a cross from Robert Lewandowski, who had been kept quiet all evening, found substitute Damian Szymanski to head past Jordan Pickford.

The late equialiser tore up England’s 100% record in Group I but they remain four points clear with four games left to play.

Two winnable away matches in Andorra and San Marino are still to come, plus home foixtures against Hungary and Albania, who they have already beaten in qualifying. 

No changes

During such a congested schedule, it was surprising Southgate opted against using anyone from the bench as the clock ticked down.

It was the first time the Three Lions had not made a single substitution in a match since their Euro 1996 semi-final against Germany.

Southgate, who infamously featured in that hearbtreaking clash, defended his decision after the game.

He said: "We were in total control and we would have been making changes for the sake of it.

"The players that were out there were in the rhythm of the game, so to make the changes would have potentially disrupted it rather than improved it.

"It is not easy to come in off the bench in those moments in matches."

Tight first half

Perhaps it was a given that the third match in a stacked international break between the two highest-ranked sides in the group was going to be a tight affair. 

But there really was very little to separate the teams sides during the opening 45 minutes.

At the very least, it was another good test for Southgate's young side, who did have one golden opportunity as the half drew to a close.

Kalvin Phillips, with Kane bursting through the middle ahead of him, failed to look up and spot the Tottenham man, instead opting for Raheem Sterling on the right flank who soon ran into bodies.

Kane closing in

After the break, Kane drifted away from his position much less and yet again got on the scoresheet in an England shirt.

From all of 25 yards out, he unleashed a venomous shot that curled around Jan Bednarek and evaded the dive of Szczesny.

The Juventus stopper failed to shift his feet, not giving himself the spring needed to quickly get across and get a glove on the ball.

It was Kane’s 41st goal for the Three Lions, pulling him clear of Michael Owen and making fifth spot in England’s all-time men’s top scorers list his own.

He is now just 10 shy of Wayne Rooney’s tally of 53 and it is just a question of when, not if, he will catch the Manchester United legend. 

Polished finish

As England sat off to protect their lead, they began to drop deeper, giving the home attack much more joy.

Poland were almost gifted an equaliser in the 80th minute when Pickford took his time with a simple clearance.

The Everton goalkeeper was quickly closed down by Karol Swiderski, who blocked the kick and sent the ball bouncing towards goal.

Pickford raced back and claimed it just a few yards from the line, a sigh of relief perhaps for Southgate, but Paulo Sousa’s men sensed an opportunity.

Poland continued to keep their energy levels high and eventually grabbed the goal their performance deserved.

Failure to clear an initial cross gave Lewandowski a chance to pick somebody out and the ball was planted home by the head of Szymanski.

Lewan-goal-ski kept out

England became the first team this season to have restricted Lewandowski to a goalless 90 minutes.

The Bayern Munich frontman did not get much service but he always showed a touch of class when he did and his overall play was superb.

He might not have found the back of the net himself but he provided the crucial assist and displayed wonderful vision to pick out the run of Szymanski.

When you carry the weight of a nation on your shoulders, it can be easy to hide in matches — but that does not appear to be in his DNA.


EnglandPolandWorld CupGareth Southgate

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