Damian Szymanski denies England at the death as Poland salvage point
England were denied victory at the death in Poland as substitute Damian Szymanski cancelled out Harry Kane’s stunner in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier.
Fresh from back-to-back 4-0 victories against Hungary and Andorra, the Three Lions rounded off their September triple-header by heading to Warsaw for what was always going to be their toughest Group I assignment.
England put in a mature performance and Kane silenced the partisan Polish crowd with a fine strike from distance, only for the hosts to roar back as Szymanski secured a 1-1 draw in stoppage time.
Gareth Southgate’s side dropped points for the first time on the road to Qatar, but they remain in control of the group with four matches remaining.
It was a deflating end to what had been a largely positive evening for the visitors, who kicked on after a lacklustre first half and went ahead when Kane’s strike from 30 yards beat Wojciech Szczesny.
Jordan Pickford almost played himself into trouble when his clearance hit Karol Swiderski and looped over his head, but England were pegged back in stoppage time as substitute Szymanski headed home.
Southgate may regret his decision not to make any substitutions on Wednesday, having made 11 changes to the starting line-up and reverted to the team that won against Hungary.
Just like that night in Budapest the England players were booed when taking the knee, having seen ‘God Save the Queen’ applauded by many home fans after initial whistles.
An impressive din did not let up at the sold-out Stadion Narodowy, with Poland unsettling the visitors by translating that intensity onto the pitch during the early stages.
Kyle Walker blocked a threatening attempt from Tymoteusz Puchacz, who Kalvin Phillips picked up an eighth minute yellow card for a foul on – one of a number of refereeing decisions that irked England.
Poland were defending aggressively and Robert Lewandowski’s presence was proving problematic at the other end, with Jakub Moder getting away a driven attempt before Adam Buksa just failed to reach a cross.
England were enjoying the majority of possession but failed to muster a shot on target in the opening period, with Kane missing the target with a wayward header after Mason Mount bent wide.
Lewandowski had Poland’s best effort of the opening period, bundling through to meet a clipped Karol Linetty pass but just failing to get enough on the ball to beat Pickford.
Tensions frayed at the break. Kamil Glik appeared to pinch Walker before a stoppage-time free-kick, with both sets of players clashing at half-time. Harry Maguire was incensed and eventually booked along with the Poland defender.
England looked to land a quick blow when play resumed after the break, with Jack Grealish getting away a low shot from an acute angle that just went wide of the far post.
Szczesny comfortably dealt with a long-range Phillips shot as the visitors continued in the ascendancy, with fleet-footed Raheem Sterling putting Poland’s backline on edge.
England were beginning to find gaps in the Polish backline through patient probing, plus they were a threat from set-pieces and Maguire saw a header come back off the far post before the flag was raised for offside.
Puchacz burst into the box and struck wide of the near post as Poland settled back down, with Lewandowski trying his luck with a long-range strike.
But just as Poland showed flashes of life, England landed a gut punch from distance as Kane took aim from 30 yards and beat former Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny.
The goal moved the captain clear of Michael Owen onto 41 international goals but it did not prove the winner in Warsaw.
Pickford was breathing a sigh of relief when his needlessly delayed clearance hit Swiderski and looped over him, leading him to beat a hasty retreat to stop it crossing the line.
However, that moment injected new life into Poland and their fans, with Lewandowski curling just off target as they pushed.
They pushed on undeterred in stoppage time and the Bayern Munich striker stood up a fine ball to the far post, where Szymanski beat Luke Shaw to head home and secure an unlikely point to the delight of the locals.