England stumble to Montenegro draw
- 26 March 2013 22:20
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
England’s road to Brazil 2014 hit a pothole on Tuesday night with a 1-1 draw away in Montenegro.
Wayne Rooney’s sixth-minute header was cancelled out by a Dejan Damjanovic strike with 15 minutes to go on another night of frustration in Podgorica for the Three Lions.
There were warm embraces in the tunnel between Hart, Lescott and former Blue Stefan Savic who was named in the centre of the Montenegrin defence for this crunch Group H encounter.
England got off to a dream start and momentarily silenced the intimidating Stadion Pod Goricom when Rooney rose highest to a Steven Gerrard corner and steered the ball past the helpless Božović.
Roy Hodgson’s men built on that strong start and nearly doubled their advantage 10 minutes later, when Milner drifted in from the right flank and drilled a fierce effort a couple of feet wide of the post.
This domination went on until the break with Rooney unable to convert Milner’s devilish cross with the goal gaping and Danny Welbeck was denied a penalty after being on the end a clumsy-looking tackle from Savic in the last seconds of the half.
The hosts improved after the break and began to press higher up the pitch, forcing errors from an England side that had looked well in control in the first period.
As the half wore on, it looked increasingly likely that the home side would equalise and they did just that with 15 minutes to go.
Hart pulled off a magnificent save from a free header on a corner but the ball subsequently pin-balled around the England box and eventually fell for Damjanovic to slot home to restore parity.
England held the lead for 70 minutes but even that Montenegrin goal couldn’t rouse them from their second half slumber and 1-1 it remained until full-time whistle, handing the initiative in Group H back to the Balkan side who stay two points clear.
England’s World Cup qualification campaign resumes in September with the must-win home tie against Moldova at Wembley.
Elsewhere, world champions Spain kick-started their qualifying campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over France at Stade Saint Denis.
David Silva was missing due to the yellow card received in Spain’s 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday, and with Javi Garcia and Gael Clichy remaining as unused substitutes, there were no City players on the field at any stage in this entertaining spectacle.
Barcelona forward Pedro scored the game’s only goal shortly after half-time to catapult Vincente Del Bosque’s side back to the top of the Group I table by a solitary point.
Spain were helped in their quest for the points when Paul Pogba was given his marching orders with 10 minutes to play for a second bookable offence.
They return to World Cup qualifying action on 6 September when they play the reverse fixture against Finland, while France must travel to Georgia on the same day.