Montenegro 1 – 1 England
This match really turned out to be a game of two halves. England dominate the first half and took the lead through Rooney’s fifth England goal in as many games. But Montenegro respond by dominating the second half, equalising through Damjanovic, and deservedly secure the draw. This result isn’t too horrific for England, as they’re still only two points behind the group leaders. However, looking at the group, and considering the teams that are in it England should really be winning this group. And with Poland and Ukraine, now breathing down their necks, they really have to start winning big games.
England started the match very brightly, and could have scored within the first few minutes. A long ball to Rooney convinced the home keeper Bozovic to rush off his line, only to reconsider and slip on his way back. Rooney attempted an audacious chip from thirty yards, that looked destined for the net, only to clip the post and go out. England didn’t have to wait too long for the goal they deserved. Glen Johnson tried his luck from 30 yards, and his swerving, dipping effort was turned over the bar. From the resulting Gerrard corner, Rooney effortlessly peeled away from his marker at the back post, to put a simple header past the hapless Bozovic.
After the goal, Montenegro had a bit more possession , but failed to create any decent chances throughout the half. England however, looked very threatening on the counter attack, with Danny Welbeck impressing with his dribbling and strength. If anything can be said about England, their final ball could’ve been better on occasion, the slippery pitch didn’t help this. England didn’t creat too many clear cut chances in the first 45 minutes, being generally restricted to long shots. There was a moment of controversy at the end of the half though, when Welbeck was booked for allegedly diving in the box. Savic did appear on replay to clip his heel in the box, but the referee saw it otherwise.
In the second half, we saw two completely different teams. Montenegro shot out of the blocks, akin to England in the first half, and created a flurry of decent opportunities. While most of these were fairly easily dealt with, Vucinic really should have done better when the ball arrived at his feet from a corner, but he sliced wildly over. England really struggled to find the fluidity and composure they had in the second half, and couldn’t muster any chances of note early in the half. It was the home team who then began to dominate. Vucinic curled one wide, when substitute Damjanovic was much better placed. Jovetic’s volley then produced a decent save from Hart. The Fiorentina striker had another long range effort, that Hart very nearly embarrassingly fumbled into the net. Montenegro got the goal their pressure deserved. A corner bouncing around the box firstly deflected off of Gerrard onto the post and out for another corner. The next one again bobbled around the box following a good save from Hart. England couldn’t clear the ball, and Damjanovic swept the ball into the net for a well deserved equaliser.
England then finally started to threaten again, using the pace of the substitute Ashley Young to produce a chance, but Steven Gerrard shot wide from long range. After another flurry of Montenegro corners, Gerrard had two good chances to snatch victory, the first after a slick move fell to him to see his powerful shot deflected. The second after some scrappy play outside the box again fell to him, only for his shot to be straight at Bozovic. Gerrard had one more chance at the very end, but his 25 yard free kick was very unconvincingly tipped over. The resulting corner came to nothing, and Montenegro celebrated a draw, which at half time looked very unlikely.
England Ratings. Hart – 5, Johnson – 6, Cole – 6, Smalling – 7, Lescott – 6, Cleverly – 6(Young – 6), Carrick – 6, Milner – 6, Gerrard – 7, Welbeck – 8, Rooney – 7.