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England v Poland – October 2013

England v Poland – October 2013

Wayne Rooney scores for England

England confirmed their qualification for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil with a thrilling victory over Poland at Wembley.

Roy Hodgson’s side needed three points from their final qualifier to secure top spot in Group H after Ukraine’s 8-0 win in San Marino.

However, they had to survive anxious moments before the target was finally achieved.

Wayne Rooney, as he did against Montenegro last Friday, broke the deadlock, heading in a perfect cross from the outstanding Leighton Baines four minutes before half-time.

Poland, backed by about 20,000 supporters who contributed to a colourful and vibrant Wembley atmosphere, threatened through Robert Lewandowski before captain Steven Gerrard eased any fears of a late twist with a surging run and finish two minutes from time.

England manager Hodgson raced from his technical area in delight before enjoying a fully deserved celebration with his backroom team at the conclusion of an unbeaten and ultimately successful qualification campaign.

England went into their two final games, against Montenegro and Poland, needing six points, and Hodgson’s team duly revealed a fresh face as progressive attacking football – bordering on reckless at times – replaced the caution that coloured many of their earlier qualifiers.

Now they can join what is expected to be the biggest football carnival of all in the spiritual home of the game in South America.

And their supporters will travel in force, with almost 97,000 applications already received from England even before qualification was assured.

England may not be among the favourites in Brazil but if Hodgson can build on the optimism of these final two games and nurture more young faces then they can at least travel in hope.

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