Hodgson still upbeat over qualification
England boss Roy Hodgson insists his side's World Cup fate remains in their own hands despite the 1-1 draw in Montenegro.
After a sparking first-half display, during which Wayne Rooney had given England a sixth-minute lead, the visitors were made to pay for a shoddy performance after the break as they continually gave away possession. Joe Hart made a couple of excellent saves before Dejan Damjanovic grabbed Montenegro's leveller.
The result leaves England second in Group H, still two points behind their opponents. However, that gap may well have grown to five before Hodgson's side are next in competitive action in September, and they are still to beat any of the major opponents in the group. "It is still in our own hands," said Hodgson.
"We still have to play Montenegro at home, Poland at home and Ukraine away. You are bringing it back to the result against Ukraine at home, when we would have liked to win but we drew.
"I suppose you could say Ukraine away will be crucial, but we still have three of our four games at home, so we will try to make certain we keep it in our hands by winning those matches."
The difference between England's first and second-half performances could not have been more marked.
Yet the outcome might well have been different had the visitors been awarded a penalty for a foul on Danny Welbeck by former Manchester City defender Stefan Savic which referee Jonas Eriksson saw as a dive by the forward.
"I have not seen a replay but I don't think Danny would have wanted to go down in that situation," said Hodgson. "We had several opportunities in the first half when we got behind their defence but it didn't quite come off for us."
Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic admitted it should have been a penalty, although he argued Rooney had fouled one of his own players in the build-up to his 35th England goal.
"It is possible that there was a penalty but did you see Rooney before he scored the goal?" said Brnovic. "I like an attacking strategy, but against England it was not totally the way to go and they showed in the first half how strong they are. If we had been complete in our line-up we would have been even more successful."
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