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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Wembley Stadium (ATT 83,807) 11th October 2013 - Kick off 20:00 Ref: A Undiano Mallenco

England England vs Montenegro Montenegro

England 4

W Rooney (49)
B Boskovic (og 62)
A Townsend (78)
D Sturridge (pen 90+3)

ft

Montenegro 1

D Damjanovic (72)

One down, one to go

England edged closer to World Cup qualification with a 4-1 win over Montenegro at Wembley on Friday. Now only Poland stand in the way of a trip to Brazil. For all the debate, Adam Bate thinks that means Roy Hodgson is one game away from fulfilling his remit.

By Adam Bate - Follow @GhostGoal.   Last Updated: 11/10/13 11:59pm

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Andros Townsend starring for England was a triumph for him and his manager

Andros Townsend starring for England was a triumph for him and his manager

One game to go. One win needed to secure England's place at the 2014 World Cup. Poland, for old times' sake, will be the opponents. But after a 4-1 win over Montenegro at Wembley on Friday evening, Roy Hodgson and his England team can at least go into the contest with a little confidence and that other precious intangible called momentum. Not that you'd have known it at half time. The England manager had stressed the need for patience in the build-up to the game. And with good reason. After all, everyone seems to get rather jittery where the Three Lions are concerned.

Such is the excessive introspection regarding the national game, Hodgson and his players were forced to go into a crucial qualifier against the familiar backdrop of debate about the state of English football. An FA commission has been set up to look at where it's going wrong. Throw in the serialisation of a new book by Harry Redknapp and the England boss came into this one under significant pressure.

There is justifiable excitement about English prospects such as Ross Barkley and Ravel Morrison. Even a furore over not-so-English talent such as Adnan Januzaj. There's the Cinderella story of an ageing former beetroot factory worker. It's a recipe for populist appeal. But while others can sell dreams of tiki-taka football to the public from the comfort of a punditry sofa or offer vague talk of exciting and expansive football, Hodgson is the one confronted with the reality.

Daniel Sturridge added late gloss to the scoreline with an injury-time penalty

In that sense, the current incumbent might not be the man English football wants but he might be the one it needs right now. For his remit is rather different. His job is to tackle the immediate problems. With a record of seven wins and six draws from 13 competitive fixtures, Hodgson is entitled to believe he's doing an efficient job of it. After the need for a little of that aforementioned patience, Montenegro were duly dispatched. What's more, you couldn't even call it boring.

In particular, the cautious selection of James Milner was uncharacteristically eschewed in favour of the more adventurous option of Andros Townsend. In attack, Premier League top scorer Daniel Sturridge was picked alongside Wayne Rooney. In a match for which experience might have seemed a prerequisite, Hodgson turned to a debutant and a player making only his second England start - the first of which ended through injury after a mere 30 minutes of football.

Triumph

Task getting clearer for Roy

Of course, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard formed the central midfield pairing at a combined age of 68 years old. Death, taxes and all that. But with Leighton Baines impressing in a rare competitive start at left-back in the absence of Ashley Cole and Townsend emerging as the clear man of the match in a four-goal display, this was surely a triumph for Hodgson whether by accident or design.

There are still problems. Watching England pepper the visitors' box with a series of corners in the first half was a reminder of some of the qualities Jack Wilshere might have added to his infamous list of English football's characteristics. Pump the ball into the area, look for the knockdowns and lift the crowd's spirits with hopeful efforts from distance. Sturridge skewed wide. Danny Welbeck blasted over. Gerrard scuffed the ball into the keeper's hands. No subtlety and no playing between the lines - it looked suspiciously like the 4-4-2 that dare not speak its name.

Leighton Baines was among a number of impressive performers for England on Friday

And Montenegro offered resistance, even if it was of the particularly joyless variety hinted at by their national anthem. Indeed, when hapless Manchester City favourite Stefan Savic was busy producing world-class blocks, Wembley was entitled to feel a little nervous. Not our night et cetera. But this was England's night, or rather more specifically, it was Townsend's night. The Tottenham winger had been viewed with some scepticism in some quarters given the alarming statistics - no goals, no assists and 26 shots for Spurs so far this season. But incongruously, this was a performance that oozed end product.

His driving run brought the breakthrough. In fact, his dribbling hinted at being the key to England's success right from the start of the game. As it was, the country had to wait until the early stages of the second half when Townsend's cross found its way to Welbeck and his low shot was only parried into the path of Rooney for the forward to force the ball home. An own goal doubled the lead before Dejan Damjanovic pulled one back. And then came Townsend's moment. An injection of pace to create space and a fierce shot with his supposedly weaker right foot that arrowed into the corner of the net.

It was a feel-good moment on what proved to be a feel-good evening, capped by Sturridge's injury-time penalty. There have been a few such moments of late. Rickie Lambert's goal against Scotland. A trio of England players reaching the 100 club. And despite the concerns, plenty of goals going in. Only Germany and Holland have scored as many as England in qualifying.

But still the concerns will continue. Every 90 minutes of action will be pored over with analysis of everything from the team selection to what the pass completion accuracy can tell us about the future direction of the English game. Hodgson will have to settle for the three points. If he can double that tally on Tuesday then - FA commissions, book serialisations and debates about the nature of nationality aside - the England boss will have done the job that was required. Can anyone really expect any more than that?

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Matches

  • FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

    Fri 11th Oct - Group B
    Fri 11th Oct - Group G
    • Lithuania
      2 - 0
      Latvia
      bet
      TV
    • Bos & Herz
      4 - 1
      Liechtenstein
      bet
      TV
    • Greece
      1 - 0
      Slovakia
      bet
      TV
    Fri 11th Oct - Group A
    Fri 11th Oct - Group F
    Fri 11th Oct - Group H
    Fri 11th Oct - Group C
    • Faroe Islands
      1 - 1
      Kazakhstan
      bet
      TV
    • Sweden
      2 - 1
      Austria
      bet
      TV
    • Germany
      3 - 0
      Rep Ireland
      bet
      TV
    Fri 11th Oct - Group E
    Fri 11th Oct - Group D
    Fri 11th Oct - Group I

Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4

Related

England v Montenegro

Andros Townsend: Celebrates his superb strike that put England 3-1 up against Montenegro

Townsend: Dream come true

Andros Townsend has spoken of his pride at his memorable debut with England against Montenegro on Friday night.

Raheem Sterling: Made his international debut last November

Sterling gets England call

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has been called into the England squad for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier with Poland.

Golden oldies

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were key against Montenegro, Peter Taylor told Sky Sports News.