Poland equalized in stoppage time, ending England’s perfect start to qualifying for the World Cup and securing an important 1-1 draw in Warsaw.
Gareth Southgate’s side, who lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties in July, had won their first five games in Group I.
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Harry Kane’s 72nd-minute long-range shot put them on the path to stretch that to six games before Damian Szymanski scored in the 92nd minute and gave Poland an unlikely draw.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m glad we scored that goal in the last few minutes. I’m happy,” said Symanszki. “I’ve worked hard to deal with injuries. To play against England, to score a goal, it’s a dream come true.”
This was England’s toughest test to date in Group I. Poland was set to frustrate with defensive play and gameplay, but the guests looked like they would get through and take a big step towards next year’s World Cup finals.
England’s efforts were thwarted in the first 45 minutes as they couldn’t interfere with Wojciech Szczesny in goal for Poland. The main threat to the hosts, Robert Lewandowski, was meanwhile limited to a half-chance, which was handled cleanly by Jordan Pickford.
A fast-paced but uneventful first half came to life when the referee whistled at half time as the England and Poland players got together. Harry Maguire appeared upset about something while Poland defender Kamil Glik was called back by the referee trying to leave the field. At some point things calmed down and both players were cautioned.
There was an incident just before half-time that was reported to the FA boys, “Kane said after the game.” They take care of it and investigate it and we will move on from then on. Supposedly it was done, not said. We don’t have a chance to look at the footage and speak to the boy. “
Poland struck too late to deny England victory in Warsaw. Getty Images
England improved after the break when Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling worried the Polish rearguard without giving Szczesny too much cause for concern. That was until the 72nd minute when Kane’s powerful, evasive shot flew past the former Arsenal goalkeeper from 32 yards to give England the lead.
It was the 15th qualifying game in a row for the European Championship and World Cup in which Kane had scored a goal and it appeared to have resulted in a sixth consecutive win in this campaign.
Poland looked unimaginative in response but almost equalized von Pickford.
Then, as England seemed to see the game over, Szymanski headed a Lewandowski cross home to stun England and scoop a point for Poland.
“Kick in the teeth in the end, it’s never easy to admit at the last minute,” said Kane. “But it was a good performance by the boys, we controlled the game well. Of course [there was an atmosphere], we’re playing for the chance to play in the World Cup. Poland clearly saw this as the last chance to take a few points from us and get closer as a group.
“I thought we did it well. The game against Hungary and this away game were not easy. The boys were strong and performed well.”
England have 16 points from six games, Albania second with 12 points, Poland with 11 and Hungary with 10 points. The best team in the group will qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar, with the runner-up going into the playoffs.