KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY: Last summer Tottenham winger Andros Townsend missed the European under-21 finals after being caught out on a betting offence. Now, thanks to his decisive effort, England manager Roy Hodgson is backing England to surmount the one last obstacle on the road to the World Cup finals.
The 4-1 win over Montenegro – in which debutant Townsend scored a fine third goal and collected the man of the match award – left England needing to beat Poland back at Wembley on Tuesday to secure their flight tickets.
Hodgson said: “He made a big impact. It can’t be easy for a young player, making his debut for England in a game of that nature but he played well and with a calmness and composure I’ve seen him show with QPR last season and with Tottenham this season.
“I’m fortunate he was able to reproduce it tonight.”
Hodgson was equally pleased overall with the manner in which England approached the challenge of the match against opponents who have proved highly awkward several times over in the recent past.
He said: “It was a tough game. Montenegro were well organised and difficult to break down. They don’t panic when they win the ball back and were quite dangerous on the counter attack but we kept at it and were a bit sharper around the penalty box in the second half.
“Fortunately for us we got the goal but the most important was Andros getting our third because that restored our two-goal margin.
“We had had chances for 3-0 but then suddenly they had scored a goal out of the blue on a deflection and a shot that Joe would have covered and suddenly it’s a game again so Andros’ goal took the wind out of their sails and gave us a chance to compose ourselves.
“The job’s half done. If we want to qualify we need to win against Poland on Tuesday. That won’t be easy. If they play as well against us as I saw them play in the first half tonight against Ukraine then it will be a tough game.
“But we’re nine games unbeaten now and still unbeaten in this qualifying group. We’re quite capable of going through the 10th unbeaten and with the backing from the crowd and all the talent we have in the team I’d be foolish not to back our team.”