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England 2-1 Poland: 5 talking points from a strong win for the Three Lions | World Cup 2022 qualifiers

England picked up a solid win over Poland in a 2022 World Cup qualifier tonight.
England picked up a solid win over Poland in a 2022 World Cup qualifier tonight.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 01 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

In an entertaining World Cup 2022 qualifier at Wembley tonight, England defeated Poland 2-1.

The result puts England in pole position to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, while Poland now sit in fourth place in Group I and are in danger of missing out.

England dominated the first half and opened the scoring midway through from a Harry Kane penalty after Raheem Sterling was brought down.

At that stage, it looked like it’d be an easy win for Gareth Southgate’s side.

However, their intensity dropped in the second half. And with Poland putting more pressure on, an awful mistake from John Stones allowed Jakub Moder to fire an equalizer past Nick Pope.

From there, it looked like the game would peter out into a draw. But a late corner saw Stones nod the ball down to Harry Maguire, who fired home with a beautiful finish to seal the match for England.

Here are five talking points from England’s 2-1 win over Poland.


#1 England’s first-half should ensure Southgate sticks to 4-3-3 going forward

England - and Mason Mount in particular - were excellent in the first half of tonight
England - and Mason Mount in particular - were excellent in the first half of tonight's game.
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The big question mark coming into tonight’s game was whether England boss Gareth Southgate would return to the 3-4-3 formation he’d used with his side in last autumn’s UEFA Nations League matches.

The overall feeling was that the formation stifled England’s creativity but that Southgate’s pragmatic style would see him lean towards it against a dangerous side like Poland.

However, the England boss stuck to 4-3-3, and in the first half at least, it paid off marvelously.

England were absolutely fantastic for the first 45 minutes, pressing and harrying Poland constantly and never giving them any room to breathe.

Mason Mount and Phil Foden constantly found pockets of space to play quick balls into, while Raheem Sterling tormented the Polish defense with his dribbling. Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips both looked excellent in breaking up plays.

Harry Kane’s penalty was the least that England deserved for their work. And while the intensity dropped in the second half, the overall performance should hopefully mean England stick with 4-3-3 going forward into this summer’s European Championships.


#2 Poland looked largely toothless without Lewandowski

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Poland clearly missed injured striker Robert Lewandowski tonight.
Poland clearly missed injured striker Robert Lewandowski tonight.

England fans were buoyed earlier this week when it was announced that Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski would miss this game after suffering a knee injury.

After all, no defense in the world would want to face a striker who’s scored 42 goals in 36 games as Lewandowski has this season.

And sure enough, the Bayern forward’s absence was clearly an issue for Poland’s chances in this game.

Poland simply couldn’t create any opportunities on goal, particularly during the first half. And when their attackers did find some dangerous positions, there was nobody there to finish them off.

In the end, they had just one shot on target throughout the game, and that was Jakub Moder’s goal that was gift-wrapped to him by John Stones.

Poland are clearly not a one-man team, and they did push England hard tonight, particularly after Arkadiusz Milik was introduced in the second half. But they definitely missed their star striker greatly.

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Published 01 Apr 2021, 03:04 IST
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