Skip to content

England will be disappointed with draw at Montenegro, but it’s hardly the end of the (qualifying) world

Mar 26, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT

Montenegro v England - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Getty Images

There was a quiet confidence surrounding England ahead of today’s match in Montenegro, a mood that was reflected on the field. A sixth minute header from Wayne Rooney gave England and early lead, and through halftime there was little doubt the Three Lions could carry their 1-0 to final whistle. But after veteran attacker Dejan Damjanović capitalized on Montenegro’s second half control and converted through the chaos of a 77th minute corner, England had to content themselves with an objectively 1-1 decent result, even if their standing will engender fears ahead of their final four qualifiers.

Undefeated by thrice drawn through six rounds, England sits second in their group with 12 points. Montenegro has 14 points, but because the teams are set to meet at Wembley to finish qualifying in October, England still holds their qualifying fate in their own hands. So does Montenegro, for the matter, with the winner of Group H earning a spot in Brazil. Second place in all likelihood heads to a playoff.

Montenegro has only been an independent nation since 2006 and has only competed in two major qualifying tournaments. They finished a disappointing fifth while trying to qualifying for South Africa 2010, but they nearly made the 2012 European Championships after finishing second in their group. With a full roster of talent playing in mid-to-major leagues throughout Europe, the Montenegrins have the ability to get through a qualifying tournament when things go well.

All of which should go without saying, but because their name doesn’t carry the international prestige of one of Europe’s established powers, there is a perception that England should be able to beat them. Given the talent on each team, that’s a fair perception, but as we learned earlier today, road qualifiers can be tricky for the best of sides. Even in Europe.

“We’d had control in midfield initially, but we lost that,” England manager Roy Hodgson said after the match, explaining where things went ‘wrong’ for his team. “So my overall feeling is one of disappointment, because things were looking so good for us at one stage.

“I don’t think it’s a particularly bad result because Montenegro are a difficult team to beat, but it would have been nice to have built on that lead at half-time and profited from it to go home with three points.”

England remaining qualifiers, beyond Montenegro: hosting Moldova (Sept.6), Poland (Oct. 15) and a trip to Ukraine. (Sept. 10).

Meanwhile, Montenegro still have a trip to Poland (Sept. 6) and a visit from Ukraine (June 7) before going to Wembley. Moldova (Oct. 15) is in there, too, though it’s unlikely the Montenegrins will be troubled with that visit.

With the group leaders facing difficult matches against the Poles and Ukrainians, England may be able to take Group H’s lead before Montenegro arrives in London.

That won’t diminish the feeling of disappointment around England’s team (one that’s already seen some of Roy Hodgson’s post-match comments criticized), but it’s a possibly unfounded emotion. The Three Lions aren’t so talented that they should scoff at a draw in Podgorica.

Keeping control of their own fate after their group’s most difficult away match, England should find peace with the result.

Latest Posts
  1. Wenger, post-match: Focus was key as Arsenal burst past Aston Villa

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    arsene_wenger Getty Images

    Arsenal’s manager lauded his team’s concentration in its 3-0 win at Villa Park.

  2. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 4-1 Seattle Sounders

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:27 PM EDT

    bradley_wright_phillips_tim_cahill AP

    Bradley Wright-Phillips is closing in on history after his season’s third hat trick.

  3. Premier League Sunday preview: Man City vs. Chelsea; Everton, Spurs, Man United in action

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Chelsea and Man City will square off early in the season. AP

    Can Chelsea stay perfect by beating Man City? Will United win again? How will Spurs, Everton do after Europa League action? Super Sunday is upon us.

  4. Premier League recap: All goals, highlights from Saturday’s action

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:52 PM EDT

    danny_welbeck AP

    Arsenal became the first to break through Aston Villa, while Sam Allardyce’s plans came to fruition in East London.

  5. MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 3-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:16 PM EDT

    diego_valeri AP

    The Timbers claim fifth in the Western Conference after another decisive win over their rivals.

  6. Watch Live: New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders (Lineups)

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    Thierry Henry 4

    Thierry Henry will be center stage as two teams recovering from mid-week commitments meet at Red Bull Arena.

  7. Diego Valeri’s volley against Vancouver is near-perfection (video)

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    Portland Timbers against the Seattle Sounders AP

    Portland’s brightest executed a sublime volley to give his team a first half lead.

  8. Post-match: Redknapp lauds QPR character after draw with Stoke City

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:07 PM EDT

    harry_redknapp Getty Images

    QPR manager credited Potters’ solidity while extolling the value of his team’s point.

  9. Brendan Rodgers post-match comments: “A day with too many mistakes”

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 5.00.13 PM

    The Liverpool boss didn’t see enough dynamic play from his squad after a mid-week UEFA Champions League match against Ludogorets.

  10. WATCH: Celta Vigo backheel goal is an instant contender for goal of the year

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT

    Club Atletico de Madrid v Real Club Celta de Vigo -La Giga Getty Images

    Former DC United player Pablo Hernandez can take as many bows as he’d like after his stunning backheel volley put one past Atletico Madrid.

  11. Watch Live: Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Lineups)

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:23 PM EDT

    Get use to seeing more south American players heading to MLS, as Opta's office in Uruguay will help to unearth Latin American gems (see, Diego Valeri) on the cheap. AP

    NBCSNs Major League Soccer doubleheader kicks off at 5 p.m. ET in Oregon. Here are your lineups and streaming information:

  12. WATCH: AC Milan rolls out A-plus tifo before Juventus match

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    AC Milan v Juventus FC - Serie A Getty Images

    Roughly-translated, it said, “A year of rage to be great again.” That’s good stuff, and the noisy crowd made it even better.

  13. Bundesliga wrap: Hamburg holds Bayern; Newly-promoted club atop league

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

    Germany Soccer Bundesliga AP

    There were several eyebrow raisers on Matchday 4 even before Sunday’s Rhein Derby and a big Wolfsburg match versus Bayer Leverkusen.

  14. Cameroon to host 2019 African Cup of Nations; 2021, 2023 hosts announced

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    cameroon squad AP

    Cameroon will host the ACON for the second time in their history in 2019.

  15. Premier League roundup: Arsenal, Southampton win, Liverpool upset

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    Recaps, videos, reaction and analysis from Saturday’s six games in the PL.

  16. West Ham United 3-1 Liverpool: Early goals send Irons to big upset

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:26 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Brendan Rodgers side lost its third match of the young season and Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United leapfrogged the Reds with a Saturday win.

  17. After summer of “crisis”, Southampton go second in Premier League

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT

    Swansea City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Saints are flying high early in the season, as preseason predictions of relegation seem to be well wide of the mark.

  18. Danny Welbeck gets off the mark for Arsenal, links up with Mesut Ozil superbly

    Sep 20, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League

    Can Welbeck and Ozil click and become Arsenal’s main offensive weapons?

  19. At the half: West Ham builds 2-0 lead, Liverpool pulls one back

    Sep 20, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    West Ham United v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Raheem Stirling has narrowed Liverpool’s deficit to 2-1 at halftime in a Saturday afternoon thriller on NBC.

  20. Cisse salutes cancer-battling Jonas, Pardew defends job as Newcastle drew Hull

    Sep 20, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    “It’s not lost on me that I get accused of being arrogant but I’m also a proud man to be manager of this football club and I’m going to fight to keep it,” Pardew said.

Featured video

Breaking down Man City vs. Chelsea