Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney believe England will still qualify for the World Cup despite Wednesday’s 1-1 draw in Poland, but admit the performance in Warsaw was far from perfect.
Both teams saw their preparations thrown into chaos when the 2014 qualifier was postponed on Tuesday because of a waterlogged pitch and rearranged for Wednesday.
However Poland coped with the conditions far better as they came from behind to earn a point in a match they were unlucky not to win.
“It was a difficult game, a difficult pitch,” Manchester United striker Rooney said. “We weren’t at our best but we dug in and got a draw. We know we can play better but this is a difficult place to come so it is a decent point.”
England remain top of Group H, a point clear of Montenegro, and are clinging to those kind of positives following a disappointing display which saw Rooney’s first-half goal canceled out by a second-half header from Kamil Glik.
“We knew it was a tough group, but we’re still confident,” Rooney said. “We believe in ourselves and we believe we are the best team in the group, so we are confident of qualifying. Hopefully we will win the rest of our home games and have a great chance.”
England captain Gerrard echoed his teammate’s sentiments, but also praised Poland for a spirited display.
He said: “I thought Poland dealt with the conditions and played to the conditions slightly better than us. That’s the reason we didn’t get three points.”
“We did OK until we scored but never built on the one-goal lead. We never passed the ball well enough, for whatever reason” he said.
“I’m happy to be top but slightly disappointed not to have a few more points on the board, but I don’t think Montenegro and Ukraine will come here and take maximum points,” Gerrard said.
England have eight points from four games but second-placed Montenegro have a game in hand and can go top of the group if they beat San Marino next month.
“Montenegro got a fantastic result in Ukraine which has turned the group in their favor,” Gerrard said. “That’s why we wanted maximum points to go into the new year in the driving seat. We have to make sure we take maximum points from Montenegro when we play them now.”
The Liverpool midfielder refused to use confusion from the previous day’s postponement as an excuse for his side’s performance.
He said: “When you’re fired-up, pumped-up, you’ve had your massages and you’re ready to go and don’t play, that’s not ideal, but we’re professionals. We’re playing at the top level and we had to get ourselves up for this — but I didn’t think we were totally at the races.”
“I slept fine last night. I won’t use the delay and conditions as an excuse. The reason we didn’t win was because we didn’t pass it when we went in front,” Gerrard said.
Poland goalscorer Glik certainly believed his side deserved at least a point, saying: “We were going for a win the whole time.”
“The coach said it himself, we were in it to win it, but I think we can be pleased with this draw. Getting a draw against the likes of England isn’t the worst result in the world,” he said.
Describing his goal as one of the most important of his career he added: “It’s not every day you get to score against England. And do it at home in your national stadium, of course that’s really fantastic.”