October 16, 2021

England vs Poland player ratings

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Harry Maguire’s late strike secured a 2-1 win for England over Poland at Wembley and an important three points towards World Cup qualification.

Harry Kane’s first-half penalty had put England in control with Poland offering little at the other end but an error from John Stones put the result back in the balance until Maguire fired home the winner.

Here are the player ratings…

Nick Pope – 6

A huge vote of confidence for the Burnley goalkeeper during these trio of World Cup qualifiers, Pope has started the lot with Jordan Pickford unavailable and looked on course for three clean sheets before Stones’ second-half error. It was the first goal Pope has let in during his England career.

There was little he could do and little he could do to impress beyond that. His handling was assured but one left-footed hack in the first half will ensure that questions about his footwork remain, particularly when compared to the more composed Pickford. Still, a reliable series of displays.

Kyle Walker – 6

The right-back slot is fiercely contested in this England squad but Walker appears to have re-established himself as first choice. The most experienced option is perhaps the most versatile having operated on the right of a back three but he looks even more comfortable now in a four.

Occasionally drifting inside into a midfield position, as he does at club level for Manchester City, Walker was the less adventurous of the full-backs but looked relatively untroubled. With no more internationals before that tournament squad is announced, it looks his place to lose now.

John Stones – 5

Back in the squad and back in the starting line-up, the Manchester City defender has had his ups and downs since the World Cup but looked to have found his form in good time to take his place for the Euros. However, his error in an important match is a reminder of familiar old failings.

Stones had plenty of time but was too casual and was caught out by a poor touch. One mistake and England’s night changed course. Will Southgate do the same? So strong has Stones been for his club that his return to the fold sparked a switch of formation. Will this error prompt another rethink? Perhaps not. Stones’ header in the build-up to the winner showed his character.

Harry Maguire – 7

The Manchester United skipper remains a certainty in defence and it was a good individual display from England’s first-choice centre-back. He was able to win the ball high up the pitch and carried the ball out from the back with real confidence, particularly early on, as the home team probed.

England players celebrate Harry Maguire's late goal against Poland
Image: England players celebrate Harry Maguire’s late goal against Poland

Maguire did try to salvage the situation following Stones’ mistake but could not quite get across to cut out the shot. No matter. He went and turned the game back in England’s favour at the other end, leathering the ball into the Poland net to secure a vital three points for his team.

Ben Chilwell – 7

The form of the recalled Luke Shaw did cast some doubt over Chilwell’s place in the starting line-up, especially at a time when he has been in and out under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea. But the left-back retained his place for this crucial World Cup qualifier and delivered a good performance.

That left flank looked England’s best bet of breaking through Poland’s defence right from the start and Chilwell was a willing runner throughout, always the outlet for his team-mates. When the Poland goal turned the tide, he did look a little less comfortable running back in the other direction.

Kalvin Phillips – 6

Injury to Jordan Henderson coupled with Gareth Southgate’s insistence on a double pivot at the heart of the midfield, has presented an opportunity for the Leeds United man and the signs are that he is taking it. He completed all 26 of his passes in the first half against Poland.

Phillips showed signs of being more than a holding midfielder, popping up inside the box inside the third minute and taking on corner duties as well. But is his inclusion still too cautious? That debate will continue but if Jordan Henderson cannot prove his fitness, he may well start at the Euros.

Declan Rice – 8

Enjoying an impressive season at West Ham, Rice is surely one of the first names on Southgate’s team-sheet these days and this performance was a fine example of precisely why that is the case. It was his maturity in midfield that allowed England to attack in numbers without too much to fear.

Sweeping up and snuffing out danger, tidying up on the edge of his own area, it is a vital role and one Rice, at just 22, is mastering. The interceptions continued all game and the distribution was typically reliable. A certainty for the starting line-up against Croatia.

Mason Mount – 8

Already an established favourite of the England manager, Mount has enhanced his already sky-high reputation during these World Cup qualifiers. This was another strong performance from the Chelsea midfielder, enjoying the space he was able to find in a deeper role off the left channel.

Mount just increases the tempo of any performance but it was his use of the ball that impressed too, threading passes in behind to find the runs of Chilwell and Sterling ahead of him. At 22, he is fast making himself indispensable regardless of England’s formation or his position in it.

Phil Foden – 7

The supremely gifted Manchester City youngster did not help his cause in Iceland last autumn but that is long forgotten now – Foden is just too good to be made to wait for long. Playing off the right flank, cutting inside on his favoured left, the array of smart touches were in evidence all evening.

He headed over the game’s first chance then thought he had a penalty before pressing to set up the one that England did win. Foden’s glorious first touch that set up Harry Kane for a chance in the first half summed up the quality he can bring. Snatched at a chance with his right after the break, though.

Harry Kane – 7

Jose Mourinho will be grateful that Kane sat out the San Marino game, but the England skipper was a certain starter against Poland and added yet another goal to his tally with the breakthrough strike from the spot. Wojciech Szczesny dived right, Kane went down the middle. England goal number 33.

Harry Kane gives England the lead against Poland from the penalty spot
Image: Harry Kane gives England the lead against Poland from the penalty spot

That 19th-minute goal was only the Tottenham striker’s fifth touch of the match but he was soon having more of an influence, forcing a good save low to Szczesny’s right soon after. There are a plethora of forward options waiting in the wings but England’s target man and talisman is Kane.

Raheem Sterling – 8

After missing out on a half a dozen England games earlier in the season, Sterling has started all three of these World Cup qualifiers and shown his value to the team. Coming deeper for the ball from the outset, there were signs he would be crowded out early on but he soon started causing problems.

It was Sterling who won the penalty for Kane’s opener and the sight of the Manchester City man running at the defence inside the area became a feature. He might have doubled the lead when looking for Foden and was then denied at the last following another slaloming run. Impressive before tiring.


Reece James – n/a

Introduced late on as England switched to five at the back in an attempt to tighten up and secure the victory. There was one unconvincing clearance with his left foot but had little else to do.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin – n/a

Having made no substitutions while England were chasing a winner, Southgate soon changed tack once England had the lead. The Everton man was given a few minutes, coming on for Kane.

Jesse Lingard – n/a

Another England cap for Lingard, another attempt by Southgate to punctuate the rhythm of the match as the clock ran down in the closing moments. Sterling departed.

What’s next?

England play Austria (June 2) and Romania (June 6) in their Euro 2020 warm-up games, before kicking off the tournament against Croatia at Wembley on June 12 in the group stages.

Gareth Southgate must name his England squad for the tournament by 11pm on June 1, but he is expected to announce it before that date.