It was a sad Monday night for the British nations at the World Cup qualifiers. England were held to a 1-1 draw by Montenegro despite taking the lead while Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland all suffered defeats at the hands of Croatia, Israel and Serbia respectively.
World Cup Qualifiers (Group H): Montenegro 1-1 England
W. Rooney 6′
D. Damjanovic 76′
England started the game brilliantly and took the game by the scruff of the neck when Wayne Rooney scored a brilliant header from Steven Gerrard’s corner.
The Three Lions dominated the entire first half creating odd chances as well. Had the referee been kind enough, England could have added at least one more goal before the interval. Danny Welbeck was clipped by Stefan Savic in the penalty area that prompted a booking for simulation which should have been a penalty.
The story was completely different in the second half. The home side pressed hard and England switched into defensive mode. Branko Brnovic’s side responded superbly as they pushed for an equalizer. Substitute Dejan Damjanovic scored in the 77th minute taking full advantage of a goal mouth scramble.
Skipper Gerrard said after the match:
“We stopped playing after the break for 20 or 30 minutes and away from home you can’t afford to do that.
“We stopped passing and they got a deserved equaliser.”
What baffled everyone, was Roy Hodgson’s decision not to respond quickly when England were pushed to back foot. It was there for everyone to see that England were getting outplayed in the middle but the former Liverpool manager failed to make necessary tactical adjustments when required of him.
With this draw at Podgorica, England are lying second in the group behind Montenegro by two points and their path to World Cup qualification remains far from guaranteed.
World Cup Qualifiers (Group A): Serbia 2-0 Scotland
F. Djuricic 59′, 65′
Meanwhile, the World Cup dream is over for Scotland, as they slumped to yet another defeat – this time 2-0 at the hands of an well-organized Serbian side.
With seven qualifying matches without a win, the Scots lay bottom of Group A with only two points. Belgium defeated Macedonia 1-0 and Croatia earned a 2-1 victory over Wales, which mathematically ended Scotland’s every hope of qualifying for the finals in Brazil.
World Cup Qualifiers (Group A): Wales 1-2 Croatia
G. Bale (pen.) 21′
D. Lovren 77′
Wales still have an outside chance to progress but the task is difficult now after suffering 2-1 defeat at the hands of Croatia.
Dejan Lovren, who was responsible for the first goal, redeemed himself with a long range effort in the 77th minute. The comeback trail was completed when Eduardo’s sublime skill in bringing down Olic’s cross and striking a finely timed volley past keeper Boaz Myhill, two minutes from time.
Wales are lying 4th in the table with six points, one point behind Serbia and though they can still reach the play-offs but are more likely to miss out.
World Cup Qualifiers (Group F): N. Ireland 0-2 Israel
L. Rafaelov 78′
E.B. Basat 84′
World Cup qualification is also a distant dream for Northern Ireland who amassed only three points from five games, after losing out 2-0 to Israel on Monday night.
Michael O’Neill’s side had to pay the price for failing to pounce on the barrage of opportunities they created as Israel who drew 3-3 with Portugal in their last match, scored twice late on to bag full three points.
Like England and Wales, the home side conceded the first goal in the 77th minute of the match. Lior Refaelov opened the scoring while Eden Ben Basat hit the final nail in the coffin with a sweet strike into the roof of the net six minutes from time.