By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Harry Maguire saved John Stones’ blushes and continued England’s winning start to World Cup qualification as Poland were overcome 2-1 in the final match before Gareth Southgate selects his Euros squad.
Having coasted to a 5-0 victory against San Marino and triumphed 2-0 in Albania, the Three Lions rounded off this month’s triple-header by edging past their biggest Group I rivals.
England had looked on course for a comfortable win when skipper Harry Kane fired home from the spot during a commanding first-half display, only for dawdling Stones to be caught in possession shortly after half-time.
— England (@England) March 31, 2021
Brighton’s Jakub Moder robbed the defender and lashed Poland level, only for Maguire to secure a hard-fought victory when superbly firing home from a Stones header five minutes from time.
It was a let-off for the recently recalled Manchester City defender and Southgate, whose side will next line-up at Wembley in their European Championship group opener with Croatia on June 13.
This was the final chance for the Three Lions boss to fine-tune his selection before naming his squad in late May, so the decision to make just one change from the win in Albania was noteworthy.
Keeping with a four-man backline, England dominated the first half without truly exerting themselves and went into the break in the lead after Kane scored the spot-kick won by Raheem Sterling.
Poland looked like a side missing injured talisman Robert Lewandowski, but they improved after the break and capitalised on an awful Stones error as Moder smashed home.
Southgate’s lack of substitutions raised eyebrows but his side dug deep and secured another qualification victory in their final competitive match before the Euros through Maguire’s late half volley.