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March 26, 2013
• Stadion Pod Goricom, Podgorica
Referee: J. Eriksson
• Attendance: 11300
D. Damjanović 76'
W. Rooney 6'
Anyway, that'll be all from me, Sam Wells. Thanks for following this evening's game with me and be sure to head over to Goal.com for any post-match reaction. Until next time, farewell.
Well, that game truly fulfilled a well-worn cliche - it was most definitely a game of two halves. Montenegro were abject in the first half, while England assumed that role in the second. The home side will be pleased that they managed a point after they could have been put of the game in the opening period, though may regret not extending their lead after truly dominating the second half. England, meanwhile, will be kicking themselves as, after exerting complete control over the first period, they threw away their impetus with a dire second half showing. They will, at least, be happy that they managed a point, though that second half will undoubtedly leave a sour taste in the mouths of all involved.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Miloš Krkotić
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Miodrag Djudovic
90' + 2'
The ensuing corner from Young is disappointing and, after Carrick's follow-up cross is cleared, the referee calls a halt to proceedings, with the game finishing 1-1.
90' + 1'
Welbeck is fouled, quite nastily in fact, by Dzudovic on the edge of the Montenegro area. After the referee books a Montenegro player for encroachment, Gerrard fires the resulting free kick goalwards and very nearly wins the game in the last minute! Bozovic tips the ball, flying into the top corner, over for a corner.
England are definitely in the ascendancy coming into the final couple of minutes of injury time as they retain possession outside the Montenegro area. Their attempts to break down the defence come to nothing though and the ball is cleared.
Gerrard fires another strike goalwards; his second in successive minutes! After the ball bobbles in and around the edge of the Montenegro area, the Liverpool midfielder volleys goalwards on his left, only for Bozovic to prove himself more than equal to the effort.
England are on the attack heading into the final couple of minutes, however, as Gerrard has an opportunity to put England back ahead following a lovely move from the away side! A flick from Rooney is received by the midfielder, before his shot is then blocked by the Montenegro defence.
Hart punches away the resulting corner, which Young duly controls, before playing against Jovetic for a throw-in. England would probably settle for a draw right now; this has been an abject second half display.
Almost a quite ridiculous goal there! After Vucinic overran the ball, Gerrard fired a clearance into the striker; the deflection, flying goalwards, forced Hart to tip over, gifting Montenegro with another corner.
Luckily for Carrick and England, it doesn't have any bearing on the final result as Vucinic hits a tame effort well over the bar.
Carrick gives away a free kick in a dangerous position, bringing down Jovetic on the edge of the England area. Though he got a touch on the ball, it could be argued he went through the man first. Regardless of whether it was a foul or not, that could be an important decision.
Gerrard tries another ambitious long-range effort that, though swerving viciously, heads wide of the far post, failing to test the Montenegrin goalkeeper.
The game really is stretched at the moment as both teams attempt to launch counter after counter; a Serbia attack ends at Vucinic's feet but his shot is blocked, giving Montenegro a throw-in deep in the England half.
The goal has, at least, prompted some kind of response from England as Milner wins another free kick down the right wing, with Gerrard looking to swing the ball across.
England have a dangerous free kick down the left wing, which is duly whipped in by substitute Ashley Young. The free kick is headed away though and Montenegro launch a counter-attack.
Goal Dejan Damjanović
GOAL! This one really has been coming and it's the half-time substitute Damjanovic. The initial corner is headed goalwards by Damjanovic, only for Hart to produce another smart save. The goalkeeper couldn't deflect the ball far enough though and the striker, after a second attempt, finished it with his third, just about tapping the ball home. No less than the Montenegrins deserve, in all fairness.
Montenegro hit the post! It's difficult to envisage England maintaining their clean sheet at this rate; the pressure is incessant. The corner is averted onto the post by Gerrard, of all people, before the follow-up is cleared behind for another corner.
An excellent save from Hart to deny the home side once more! Jovetic receives the ball on his chest and volleys goalwards, only to be thwarted by the palm of the Manchester City goalkeeper, who tips wide for a corner.
Montenegro are so close to opening the scoring! England are caught out at the back after an impressive attack from the home side, which ends at the feet of Vucinic. The striker could play wide to substitute Damjanovic but opts to go it alone, attempting to stroke the ball just inside of the far post. The shot is just wide however and England remain in the lead.
Hart almost makes another howler to give Montenegro the lead! After Vucinic cut inside well, beating Lescott with a worrying amount of ease, the striker shot straight at Hart with some power. The goalkeeper spilled the ball between his own legs but managed to reclaim the ball in time. That could have gone anywhere.
This hasn't been an enjoyable half for the Three Lions thus far but they have at least, over the last ten minutes, quelled some of the impetus that Montenegro had established in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half.
Johnson gives away a cheap corner after trying to play his way out of a tight spot inflicted by a Volkov through-ball. The corner comes to nothing though as Hart punches away well.
Welbeck is brought down cynically on the edge of the Montenegro area but the resulting free kick from Rooney is saved with ease by Bozovic.
England were found perplexingly short at the back from the ensuing corner, but Jovetic makes a hash of the pass to Vucinic and Hart claims with ease. Another real let-off for the Three Lions there.
Yellow Card Vladimir Volkov
Volkov is booked for an extremely rash challenge on Milner down the right wing; the free kick is whipped across by Gerrard but Volkov is there again as, in a busy couple of minutes for the left-back, he clears behind for a corner.
Montenegro make another change as an international debut is afforded to Krkotic; he replaces the disappointing Vukcevic in midfield.
England need to get a handle on this game again as this half has assumed a completely different tone following that half-time substitution. Vucinic shoots at goal again but his deflected shot is claimed easily by Hart.
Vucinic misses a golden chance! Another mistake from Lescott as the centre-back heads a cross into Vucinic's path about eight yards from goal. The striker attempts to sidefoot it at goal but gets the effort all wrong, directing the ball way over the bar. They should be level here.
England are all at sea here as Vucinic almost capitalises on a mistake by Lescott. The centre-back let the ball run out for a throw-in but the opposing striker didn't give up on it and found himself free down the right wing. His cutback wasn't good enough though and England, as well as Lescott, were given a reprieve.
Montenegro go up the other end after Gerrard floats the ball into Bozovic's hands, ending with a Jovetic volley that the striker drags just wide of the near post. The home side are knocking on the proverbial door here.
England haven't offered much yet in this half, though Milner relieves the pressure somewhat by winning a free kick down the left wing.
A concerted spell of pressure for the home side as Jovetic plays off Cole for a corner. Vukcevic whips in the ensuing set-piece, only for Basa to head wide of the England goal.
The momentum is halted briefly by a dire pass from Vukcevic, putting an attempted pass to Savic out for a throw-in. They quickly resume control of possession though as Welbeck fails to break through their defence, and Montenegro are on the attack again.
Montenegro are definitely pressing much more effectively in this half; England are giving no time on the ball when they have it - this could be an entirely different kind of half altogether.
England will be looking to slow the tempo slightly after that early scare, though that might be difficult as Montenegro appear much more intent on putting pressure on the away side's midfield, judging from the first five minutes of this second half.
The home side have definitely started this half in the ascendancy as Montenegro force their first real chance of the game. After a good attack down the right, Savic crosses deep into the area, where Jovetic heads just wide of the near post.
And the second half commences, with Montenegro immediately on the attack through Jovetic. The striker plays out wide to Volkov, whose cross is cleared adeptly by Carrick.
We're primed to get underway again here in the second half and Montenegro appear ready to make a change as Damjanovic replaces Novakovic - a striker for a midfielder, perhaps signalling a greater emphasis on attack in the second period.
England, meanwhile, will be delighted with their first half display. Though helped by the ineptitude of their opponents, they have controlled proceedings in the first 45 minutes, not only monopolising possession but also conjuring some chances from that pressure. They have looked solid defensively as well as, in spite of the pre-match talk focusing on Jovetic and Vucinic, the centre-backs have looked untroubled at the back. The Three Lions' only qualm from that first half will be their inability to add to the deficit - something they will be eager to put right in the imminent second half.
It's difficult to envisage the home side being overly pleased with their contribution to the first half; they've barely tested Joe Hart and have offered up nothing going forward. They've even looked susceptible at the back as, had that Welbeck penalty decision gone the other way (which it very well could have), they could have been chasing an even bigger deficit going into the second half. Nevertheless, they remain very much in the game and will be looking to the likes of Jovetic and Vucinic to improve markedly in the second half if they are to get anything from this game.
45' + 1'
Vucinic, in a fairly rare Montenegro attack, grabs Lescott down the right after the centre-back gets the better of the striker. And that is the last action of the half as the referee brings an end to the first 45 minutes.
Gerrard ambitiously goes for goal from a free kick around 35 yards out. The shot is deflected behind for a corner, which is subsequently cleared by the Montenegrin defence.
Yellow Card Danny Welbeck
Welbeck is booked for diving! The forward gets in behind Savic in the penalty area as the former Manchester City man is caught on the wrong side of his opponent. It's debatable but the referee deems there to be little contact and the England striker is duly booked.
England are playing some nice football here; a delightful Rooney pass is inches away from finding the advancing Gerrard on the edge of the Montenegro half after a smart move down the left involving Cleverley and Cole.
The away side's control of the game is still palpable as Gerrard almost manages to find Welbeck in behind Savic down the left wing. The right-back just gets there though, playing off the forward for a throw-in.
Montenegro win themselves a corner but Vukcevic's cross harmlessly falls into the arms of a grateful Hart and the Manchester City goalkeeper sets England on the attack with a long ball aimed at Rooney.
Cleverley and Welbeck link up well down the left wing but Welbeck's eventual cut-back, on his weaker left foot, is disappointing. The forward, despite not operating in his favoured position tonight (and in spite of that cross), has impressed thus far.
Montenegro have a spell of possession just outside the England half as Zverotic tries a speculative effort from around 35 yards out. The shot is blocked by Lescott and the home side continue in their struggle to break down their opposition's well-drilled defence.
The home support remain in fine voice, in spite of their team's disappointing performance thus far. Volkov is caught just offside as he bursts forward down the left wing; Montenegro look bereft of any ideas here.
Montenegro have still yet to test Hart in the England goal as the away side continue to retain possession with a fair amount of ease. The home side really haven't shown much to back their pre-match talk as of yet.
Yellow Card Glen Johnson
England have assumed control of this tie after a slightly tentative period after the opening goal. Another Milner cross is averted, before Gerrard's shot from the rebound is also blocked by the Montenegrin defence.
Yellow Card Mitar Novaković
England manufacture another good chance and the driving force is, once again, Danny Welbeck. Picking up the ball on the halfway line, the forward came forward well before feeding the ball right to Milner. The winger whipped a dangerous cross into the back post but Rooney just couldn't get enough of a purchase on it and the chance went begging.
Welbeck is causing the Montenegro defence some problems here as, after linking up with Rooney well down the left, a poor touch is the only thing preventing the forward from striking a goal as Savic slides in to deny him.
England are beginning to become slightly penned in here as a challenge by Cole averts a dangerous Montenegro attack. England swiftly launch a counter through Welbeck though and it's that man who almost manages to finish the attack, with a cross from Rooney just evading his Manchester United team-mate.
Savic pumps a ball forward from the back and, with Lescott just about managing to keep pace with Vucinic, Hart comes to the rescue, rushing out well to clear for a throw-in.
Montenegro threaten to come to life, aided by their home support's indignation at the referee's refusal to give a free kick after a perceived foul by Cleverley. The spell of pressure comes to nothing, though England will want a second here.
This game has calmed down slightly since that opener; Montenegro have still yet to test Hart in the England goal, while the away side seem content to retain possession following Rooney's opener.
England respond with an effort of their own as Milner, after receiving the ball on the wing, cuts inside, ignoring the overlapping Johnson and shooting towards the far post. It's a couple of yards wide of the far post though and the goalkeeper isn't troubled.
Montenegro have their first effort of the game, albeit an extremely tame attempt. Jovetic attempts a raking strike from distance but he drags it wide of the far post, causing Hart no trouble at all.
Dzudovic gives the ball away to Welbeck in a dangerous position; the Manchester United man tries to give it wide to Milner after cutting inside but the ball is cut out.
England continue to look untroubled though they have yet to really trouble the home side since that opening goal. Cleverley attempts a through-ball aimed at Welbeck down the left but it's overhit and the danger is gone.
After another spell of possession for the home side, a pass is directed at Volkov but the Montenegrin goes down theatrically, claiming an off-the-ball foul from Smalling. No doing though and England come forward again.
England cede possession to Montenegro but the home side attempt a 60-yard ball directed towards Vucinic that goes awry, heading harmlessly behind for an England goal-kick.
Montenegro are beginning to play a bit more now, though Jovetic puts an end to a promising attack with a fairly abject ball that Cole intercepts routinely.
It will be interesting to see how Montenegro reply to that; they've barely ventured out of their half in the opening seven minutes but they'll have to come out of their shell now.
Assist Steven Gerrard
Goal Wayne Rooney
And England are ahead! No more than they've deserved after a rollicking opening, it comes courtesy of Wayne Rooney! Gerrard whips in another ball from the second corner in a row, and the Manchester United striker is given a free header; he takes the opportunity, heading home with ease and putting the away side ahead within six minutes!
Gerrard's corner is cleared to the feet of Johnson, the right-back picks it up about 30 yards from goal and smacks an effort goalwards on his weaker side. An excellent effort that the keeper just manages to tip behind for a corner.
It's been a lively opening here, to say the least. The Montenegro support are in full voice, despite the Three Lions almost managing to open the scoring just a couple of minutes in. The away team have started strongly here as a Gerrard through-ball is averted behind for a corner.
Rooney hits the post! After Vucinic gave the ball away following an impressive run, England hit the home team on the counter and, with the Montenegrin goalkeeper caught in no-mans-land, the Manchester United attempted an audacious chip that was a post's width from opening the scoring!
And we're underway here in Montenegro! England get proceedings underway, with a brief spell of possession instantly invoking a chorus of whistles from the raucous home support.
That is swiftly followed by the well-received Montengrin national anthem as, with the formalities out of the way, both teams get ready to kick off proceedings here in a packed Podgorica stadium.
The teams are out on the pitch now as, with kick-off minutes away, the English national anthem blares out around the ground.
Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson, as expected, has made wholesale changes from the side that romped to an 8-0 win over San Marino on Friday, with Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick, James Milner and Danny Welbeck all coming in at the expense of Kyle Walker, Leighton Baines, Frank Lampard, Ashley Young, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jermain Defoe.
Montenegro have made a few changes from the team that scraped a 1-0 win against Moldova; the suspended Milorad Pekovic makes way, having been dismissed against the Moldovans, with Simon Vukcevic replacing him in midfield, while Miodrag Dzudovic and Milivoje Novakovic also come in for Savo Pavicevic and Filip Kasalica.
England: Hart; Johnson, Smalling, Lescott, Cole; Gerrard, Carrick; Milner, Cleverley, Welbeck; Rooney. Subs: Foster, Walker, Baines, Caulker, Lampard, Parker, Osman, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young, Defoe, Sturridge, Forster.
Montenegro: M. Bozovic; Savic, Basa, Dzudovic, V. Bozovic; Zverotic, Novakovic, Vukcevic, Volkov; Jovetic, Vucinic. Subs: Blazic, Jovanovic, Kecojevic, Delibasic, Beqiraj, Damjanovic, Igumanovic, Kasalica, Krkotic, Poleksic.
And here come the team line-ups...
This is guaranteed to a group-defining clash as the two top teams in Group H go head-to-head, with England well aware that anything other than a win against the Montenegrins would put the battle for automatic qualification out of their hands. Roy Hodgson's men currently sit 2 points off their opposition today, meaning that a defeat would put them five points adrift the top position and, in all likelihood, well on their way to a dreaded play-off against another second-placed country. Naturally, England and Montenegro are both eager to avoid that inconvenience and, as such, this should be an enthralling contest, particularly when coupled with the pre-match bravado put forth from either side in the media. Let the fireworks commence!
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of today's World Cup Qualifying Group H clash between Montenegro and England, I'm Sam Wells and I'll be guiding you through today's proceedings.
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