Rooney and Gerrard send England to Brazil

Eurosport

Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard gave England a 2-0 win over Poland to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil.

Rooney converted Leighton Baines’ devilish cross from the left with less than five minutes remaining in the first half. Poland searched for a second-half goal that would send England into the play-offs after Ukraine had comfortably beaten San Marino 8-0, but Gerrard’s late goal secured England’s place in the finals.

Andros Townsend once again starred in an England midfield that included Michael Carrick, who had been given the nod over Frank Lampard.

The Spurs winger had a hand in a number of spurned England opportunities - Danny Welbeck somehow skewing wide from six yards, while Chris Smalling failed to make contact in what looked like a certain goal.

Poland soaked up an awful lot of pressure in the opening period but always looked dangerous on the counter; Robert Lewandowski and Jakob Blazczkowski testing Joe Hart on a number of occasions.

Townsend later hit the crossbar with a wonderful curling effort before Rooney broke the deadlock, finding some space between the two Polish centre-halves to nod home Baines’ clever centre.

The hosts appeared to step off the gas during the second 45 minutes, making for a tense final.

Lewandowski had a chance to level the scores, going through one-on-one, but Hart stood firm to repel the Borussia Dortmund striker with a smart one-handed save.

Nerves inside Wembley escalated to new levels late on with the fans knowing what a single Poland goal would mean, but Gerrard showed just why he has the armband by latching onto James Milner’s lofted ball to beat the onrushing Szczesny.

The result ensures England a place in the 2014 World Cup finals while Ukraine must now fight it out in a play-off due to be played in November.

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