ENGLAND conceded in the second minute of stoppage time to draw 1-1 at Poland on Wednesday and drop points for the first time in qualifying for next year’s World Cup.
Harry Kane’s goal from a powerful 30-meter shot in the 72nd minute looked like it would give England a sixth straight win in Group I but, in a rare sight of goal for Poland, Damian Szymanski headed home from a cross by Robert Lewandowski.
England’s lead in the group was trimmed to four points because Albania beat San Marino 5-0 to move a point above Poland in second place. Hungary beat Andorra 2-1 and was in fourth place, a point behind Poland.
England is still a big favorite to secure the sole automatic qualifying berth from the group, with games still to come against San Marino and Andorra.
Still, coach Gareth Southgate will be frustrated at the way his team lost control of the game after Kane put England ahead with his 41st — and perhaps best — goal for his country, placing him fifth outright in England’s all-time list. He has now scored in 15 straight European Championship or World Cup qualifying matches.
It meant Kane was about to outshine Lewandowski in a battle of two of the world’s best strikers.
However, England dropped deeper in the closing stages and Lewandowski, starved of service for most of the game, delivered a moment of class by standing up a perfect cross that Szymanski attacked, heading into the corner for his first international goal.
Southgate should perhaps share some of the blame, having refused to make a substitute all match.
England’s ability to see out close games has been questioned under Southgate, notably in the World Cup semifinals in 2018 and the European Championship final in July.
“A kick in the teeth at the end there,” Kane said. “It’s never easy conceding in the last minute. It was a good performance from the boys, though, we controlled the game well.”
The match was played in quite a hostile atmosphere in the National Stadium in Warsaw, with the Polish team as fired up as its fans.
In one incident at the end of the first half, Poland defender Kamil Glik appeared to pinch the throat of England defender Kyle Walker, sparking a melee between both groups of players. Glik and England defender Harry Maguire were booked and Kane said the matter had been “reported” to Football Association officials.
“They’re taking care of it and investigating it and we’ll go from there,” Kane said. “Allegedly it was something that was done, not said. We haven’t had a chance to look at the footage and talk to the lad.”
Kane said his goal was one of his best for England. He certainly hasn’t scored one from further out, the Tottenham striker collecting the ball in space in a central area before taking another touch and smashing a swerving shot into the bottom corner.
He is 12 goals behind Wayne Rooney’s record mark for England.
Meanwhile, Italy continued its unbeaten run as it smashed Lithuania 5-0 in the World Cup qualifiers, with starlet Giacomo Raspadori scoring his maiden goal at senior national level.(SD-Agencies)