Although I’d been to Wembley before, the sight as I exited Wembley Park Tube still took my breath away for a moment with this huge dome lighting up the London sky and just thousands of people everywhere you looked.
We were at Wembley for a crunch Brazil 2014 World Cup Qualifier and it was a simple equation for England – win and they were on the flight to Rio. Lose and a play-off against likely France awaited in November.
Given that it was an international match, anthems were sung and this is always a spine-tingling few moments. Especially when you have a 86,000 strong crowd!.Large parts of the crowd had been given red and white cardboard to hold up during the anthems so as one’s ears took in “G-D Save the Queen”, one’s eyes took in this amazing sea of colour and you knew this was going to be a special night.
Added to the mix of was the vibrant support from the 18,000 odd Polish fans who had been allocated tickets and the atmosphere was simply electric.
Wembley is an enormous stadium, capacity 90,000, although the enclosed roof ‘hides’ some of that size and you almost can’t appreciate just how big it is when you’re up top like we were. The advantage of being up top though is that you have a sweeping view across the length of the field.
As chants of “England, England, England” rang out around the ground, the home side started strongly. Carrying on from their winning performance on Friday, they were playing attacking, entertaining football and the ½ chances came thick and fast.
Although Andros Townsend was causing problems down the right flank with his direct running at the Poles and Danny Wellbeck was being a nuisance in the centre, the Poles defended stoutly throwing themselves in the way of shots.
Townsend hit the post with a left-footed screamer from outside the box before the pressure eventually told and a chance was converted. Rooney guided in a header off a perfect cross from the left and England deservedly went into the break 1-0.
England started slowly in the second half and it seemed like they hadn’t quite woken up after the interval. They gave away possession too easily and had Polish striker Robert Lewandowski been on form, England would have been in trouble. England had to soak up heaps of pressure and although they created a few chances, they definitely weren’t dominating like in the 1st half.
And as the minutes ticked by, tension grew – would Poland snatch a late equaliser and deny England like they had way back when in 1973? (England needed a win that night to qualify for the World Cup but they could only manage a 1-1 draw).
With only two minutes left, captain Steven Gerrard decided enough was enough and he almost bullied his way past two defenders to poke the ball past the keeper after receiving it just outside the box. He simply wanted it more I feel and Wembley let out a collective sigh as the ball went in.
England had done it … 2 wins from 2 in 5 days had secured their seats on the flight to Brazil and what a night at Wembley it had been.