9 Sep 2021

England lose perfect record in World Cup qualifying

10:15 am on 9 September 2021

England dropped their first points of FIFA World Cup qualifying following a 1-1 draw with Poland in Warsaw.

Poland football player Robert Lewandowski


Damian Szymanski headed in a stoppage time equaliser to deprive England of all three points and a sixth straight victory in Group I.

Harry Kane had fired England ahead with a swerving strike in the 72nd minute as Gareth Southgate's side looked set to retain their 100 percent record.

England have 16 points from six games with Albania second on 12 points, Poland on 11 and Hungary on 10 points.

England manager Gareth Southgate defended his decision not to use any substitutes.

"We were playing well, we were in control. At those moments, it's not easy to come on as a substitute and we would be taking people off for the sake of it, frankly," said Southgate.

Southgate said the game had been the hardest test his side had faced since losing the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties in July.

"It was no surprise that this was the hardest game in the group. Early in the game, we were a little slow to move the ball and Poland pressed us well.

"As the half wore on we started to get a grip of the game and gain more control without making really any clear chances - other than Harry Kane's header at the far post.

"In the second half we controlled the game. If there's a criticism it's that we didn't create enough clear chances from that possession and we didn't get enough players in the box," he said.

England showed little desire to add to their one-goal lead and paid the price but Southgate said the result had to be put in the context of a three-game span which saw 4-0 wins in Hungary and at home to Andorra.

"While it's one-nil you run the risk of what happened at the end. We're clearly disappointed not to get the three points but I have to look at what the players have done across these three matches," Southgate said.

"Given that there was no way of telling how they would react after what happened in the (Euro 2020 final), I think their mentality and application has been really good."

England manager Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The top team in the group qualifies for next year's World Cup in Qatar with the second place team heading into the playoffs.

Italy recorded their first win since being crowned European champions as they crushed Lithuania 5-0 to strengthen their grip on top spot in Group C.

Italy top the standings with 14 points, six ahead of second-placed Switzerland following their 0-0 draw away to Northern Ireland. The Swiss have two games in hand.

Goals from Pablo Fornals and Ferran Torres earned Spain a 2-0 victory away to Kosovo and dragged them back into automatic qualification contention.

Spain top Group B with 13 points, while second placed Sweden are on 9 after their 2-1 loss to Greece, but have two games in hand.

Greece defeated Sweden 2-1 to move into third place on six points.

Winger Leroy Sane scored one goal and made another as Germany made it three wins in a row with a resounding 4-0 victory over Iceland and stay top of their group.

Belgium beat Belarus 1-0 in Kazan to move them closer to World Cup qualification.