Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Future's Brighter for Brazil-Bound England; ENGLAND SOCCER

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Future's Brighter for Brazil-Bound England; ENGLAND SOCCER

Article excerpt

ENGLAND are Brazil bound after beating Poland 2-0 in last night's must-win World Cup qualifier at Wembley. The Gazette's chief sports writer Philip Tallentire was at the match and discovered there are signs that Roy Hodgson's improving team can look forward to next summer's tournament with a degree of optimism.

ENGLAND are through and the result is as much a triumph for Roy Hodgson as it is for his team, who dominated an exciting match against limited, but nonetheless potentially dangerous, opponents.

The nation's head coach has guided England safely through a difficult group without losing a game and can plan for next summer's tournament feeling confident he is building a resilient team that will, at the very least, be competitive in South America.

The spirit so obviously lacking in South Africa three years ago is slowly returning and it could be significant that Scouse stalwarts Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard - both out of sorts in the last World Cup - scored the goals last night.

There were, to be fair, important contributions throughout the team, not least from under-fire keeper Joe Hart who made a vital second-half close-range stop to maintain his side's narrow lead.

Not surprisingly the opening stages were cagey but as the half wore on the game opened up.

Poland, who were backed by a noisy contingent of fans far in excess of their official allocation of 18,000, arguably had the best of the early chances and they squandered a wonderful opportunity when they counterattacked at pace following a 22nd minute England corner.

Adrian Mierzejewski powered down the right before hitting a low diagonal pass which Jakub Blaszczykowski dummied brilliantly, allowing the ball to reach Robert Lewandowski but the Borussia Dortmund dangerman slid his shot across the face of Joe Hart's goal.

It was a massive let-off but England responded exceptionally well, immediately laying siege to the Polish goal. …

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