| 13.6°C Dublin

Poland dampen English spirits

ACCORDING to the Bible, Noah prepared for the storm by shepherding his animals onto the Ark two by two.

England's reaction to Tuesday night's deluge in Warsaw also came in a pair. Only theirs were the two points lost on the road to Brazil.

Roy Hodgson's men have now encountered two of the decent teams in Group H. And beaten neither.

And while they have cause to lament the miserable couple of minutes when Wayne Rooney skied a glorious chance over and Joe Hart failed to punch clear a corner, England's players will acknowledge a share of the spoils was the least their opponents deserved.

Suspicious

Now the World Cup goes into hibernation for five months.

When it wakes up, Hodgson and his players will need to have dried themselves off, freshened themselves up and be ready to go. Otherwise they will be going nowhere in 2014.

Football can be surreal at times.

The Polish Federation's response to an almost full day of rain on Tuesday was to leave the roof on this magnificent stadium open. Yesterday, with the sun beaming down from a bright blue sky, they shut it.

You do not need to be a member of the Royal Horticultural Society to know that is an incorrect way of tending to a garden.

The legacy of Tuesday's carnage were a number of suspicious dark patches indicating the recovery was by no means full. There were flat patches where bounce of the ball was inconsistent

Tentative and wary, far too often England surrendered possession with no pressure applied.

England's travelling contingent had been reduced by more than half, but those who had navigated their way around the internet to sort new rooms or flights watched their team's defence get threatened by Kamil Grosicki and Robert Lewandowski.

It was heart-in-mouth stuff at times.

Lewandowski seared through England's defence in the same easy manner he did at Manchester City eight days ago. He could not find the net there either.

Indeed, the Pole's contribution was almost the exact opposite of Rooney's.

Periphery

A little bit out of touch, largely on the periphery, the game was passing the Manchester United man by until Steven Gerrard curled over a corner that looped in off Rooney's shoulder.

After leaping over Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer with his double on Friday, Rooney is now within eight of Michael Owen, who is England's fourth highest scorer with 40.

Rooney is not perfect though. And how might England reflect on his miss from Danny Welbeck's cut-back when this campaign is over.

Within a minute, Hart blundered and Kamil Glik accepted the present.

In what is effectively a four-team group, England have lost ground on Montenegro, who provide the next meaningful opposition in Podgorica next March. On their last visit, England lost a two-goal lead and Rooney was sent off.

Hodgson can have no repeat of that.


Privacy