KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY: England completed the first half of their essential World Cup qualifying double after one goal from Wayne Rooney, an own goal, a super strike from debutant Andros Townsend and a Daniel Sturridge penalty saw off Montenegro 4-1 here.
Roy Hodgson’s men had needed to win at home to the Montenegrins and then again on Tuesday against a Poland side now without hope of reaching Brazil after losing to Ukraine.
England built up their pace and command through the game though they had to wait until the 20th minute before Danny Welbeck produced the first effort on target; keeper Vukasin Poleksic palmed the ball wide for a corner.
Montenegro had pulled almost everyone back in a wide, tight red net to smother England’s forwards and attacking midfielders.
But it was never enough. Just before half-time a goal edged even closer. Tottenham right winger Townsend, raw but keen, burst through on the right, Poleksic blocked the shot but Rooney – who has scored from far tighter angles – popped his shot behind the near post and into the side net.
Minutes later Welbeck drove in a shot from the left which ricocheted wide off a defender with Poleksic stepping the opposite way.
Hodgson’s half-time message was ‘more of the same’ and his reward was Rooney’s 49th-minute goal from close range. It was his sixth goal in his last five England game and his 37th overall for his country.
Branko Boskovic sliced a clearance through his own goal just after the hour which, conversely, sparked a mini-Montenegro revival.
Stefan Jovetic hit the bar then Dejan Damjanovic toe-poked a goal as he reached an angled cross from substitute Fatos Beqiraj.
Balkan bravado did not last long. With 10 minutes remaining man of the match Townsend seized on possession in midfield, slalomed into the Montenegro defence and arrowed a right-foot shot home off the foot of Poleksic’s left-hand post.
Minutes later Townsend was substituted – a clear sign that he can be certain of starting against Poland on Tuesday.
Townsend was afforded a generous ovation as was skipper Steven Gerrard when he was substituted with minutes remaining of the match in which he earned a 106th cap to equal the mark of Sir Bobby Charlton.
All that remained was for Sturridge to wrap up the scoring. Rooney handed him the penalty shot after the Liverpool striker had been tripped by Ivan Kecojevic.