LONDON: England made hard work of defeating Poland 2-1 at Wembley to claim a third successive victory in their fledgling World Cup qualifying campaign.
Victories over San Marino, Albania and then the Poles lifted manager Gareth Southgate’s men five points clear of their injury and illness-weakened opponents.
Harry Kane opened the scoring with a 19th-minute penalty before a second-half blunder by John Stones handed an equaliser to Jakub Moder. Harry Maguire thumped home an England winner after Poland failed to clear a corner in the 85th minute.
In Stones’ defence he did brilliantly to create Maguire’s winner but doubts about England’s defence remain.
England manager Southgate said: “We were very good in the first half, we were in control of the game and to concede a goal like we did can hit the team. They stuck at it, they recovered their composure and got an important set-play winner.
“John Stones managed to compose himself for the rest of the game and had a part in the winning goal which was important – you can fold in those moments and he didn’t.”
Maguire added: “It is a big win. We are playing to play at a World Cup. We started the game well but in the second half we didn’t. John [Stones] has been brilliant this year. Defenders make mistakes and when we do we get scrutinised. He made up for it with a great header at the back post.”
Elsewhere in Group I Hungary made it two wins on the bounce with a 4-1 victory in Andorra La Vella.
Attila Fiola headed the visitors in front seconds before the half-time whistle. Daniel Gazdag and Laszlo Kleinheisler put Hungary three goals clear early in the second half before Loic Nego made it four in the 90th minute. Andorra grabbed a consolation penalty, converted by captain Marc Pujol.
Albania bounced back from defeat by England with a 2-0 victory over San Marino in Serravalle but they had to be patient.
Rey Manaj headed in the opener in the 63rd minute before Myrto Uzuni was alert and finished from close range with five minutes remaining. Tougher tests await Edy Reja’s side with Poland and Hungary to come in September.