Liverpool's Internationals Recap: Gerrard Confirms England's Place in Brazil

Laurence Griffiths

With first place in Group H on the line, England got past Poland to qualify for World Cup 2014. For Denmark, on the other hand, the final day of group play ensured they will spend next summer at home.

As expected, Denmark are officially out of contention for World Cup 2014 despite defeating Malta today and moving into second in Group B. Daniel Agger opened the scoring from the penalty spot and added a second, but when Romania beat Estonia in Group D it confirmed Denmark would be the worst second place finisher in UEFA qualification. Meanwhile, France—with Sakho on the bench—beat Finland but finish second to Spain in Group I on goal differential. They will at least make it to the playoff, where they will be favoured to advance against whichever side they end up facing.

England 2, Poland 0

England Rooney 41', Gerrard 88'






Steven Gerrard started in midfield for England alongside Michael Carrick while Daniel Sturridge led the attack. After being called up over the weekend, Raheem Sterling was on the bench. Aside from introducing Carrick in place of Frank Lampard, it was the same starting eleven that faced Montenegro on Friday—and an admirably attacking lineup chosen by the normally conservative Roy Hodgson. With the already eliminated Poland willing to engage in a flowing, open match at Wembley, it added up to an entertaining start with England's first palce aspirations on the line.

Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski were game for the visitors, pressing from the front and looking to pounce on the counter. With England needing more than a draw to ensure finishing in first ahead of Ukraine, there was certainly some room for them to work with. It led to the best early chance falling to the visitors when Waldemar Sobota shot just wide of the near post ten minutes in. Just over ten minutes later, Lewandowski was in on goal but stumbled as he shot just wide of Hart's goal.

England had their own chances in the first half, starting with a Steven Gerrard free kick that Chris Smalling headed wide when more forceful contact would almost certainly have ended in a goal. Later, the on form Andros Townsend cracked a speculative effort off the woodwork. With time running out in the first half and England beginning to show signs of frustration at the level scoreline, Leighton Baines sent a cross in towards an unmarked Wayne Rooney and put England in front heading into the break.

The second half remained fairly open despite England's narrow advantage, and both Rooney and Gerrard had chances to make England's lead more comfortable soon after the restart. Poland had a few chances, too, with the best falling to Lewandowski just past the 60th minute, but England managed to survive the odd scare and in the closing minutes a Gerrard toe-poke at the end of a driving run confirmed their place in Brazil for next summer's World Cup.

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