x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

World Cup 2014 qualifying: England match with Poland postponed due to heavy rain

England will now play their game today after a waterlogged pitch prevented it from going ahead last night, while the rest of the UK and Ireland suffered a night of mixed fortunes.

England coach Roy Hodgson tests the playing conditions at Poland's National Stadium
England coach Roy Hodgson tests the playing conditions at Poland's National Stadium

England's World Cup qualifying match against Poland will be played later today after heavy rain saw the game postponed last night amid farcical scenes in Warsaw.

After two pitch inspections, the game was eventually called off 45 minutes after the scheduled kick-off - despite the stadium, built for last summer's Euro 2012 tournament, having a retractable roof to protect the pitch from the rain.

With a number of their squad due to play league matches on Friday, the Polish federation were reluctant to agree to a one-day delay and suggested a November encounter instead.

However, with Fifa regulations stipulating the game should be rearranged for tomorrow, and England already having a lucrative friendly in Gothenburg next month as part of the centenary celebrations of the Swedish Football Association, the FA stood firm.

"We wanted to play the game tomorrow [Wednesday]," said Adrian Bevington, Club England managing director.

"Our fixture programme is full for the next 12 months. We're already here and our flight can be put back 24 hours."

Yet manager Roy Hodgson has major reservations about the game going ahead as planned.

"The pitch is in very poor condition," he told ITV1. "Water is lying on the surface. It's going to need a lot of attention if it's going to be playable tomorrow afternoon."

Knowing rain was forecast, the English Football Association had asked on arrival on Monday whether it was going to be closed but were told it was going to remain open.

By the time it became obvious the heavy rain that began falling at lunchtime was not going to stop, it was too late.

"The Fifa delegate made the decision tonight to close the roof as quickly as possible but we could not do it because the rain already on it was too heavy," Polish FA spokesperson Agniesza Olejkowska said.

The match will now take place at 7pm UAE time today.

Michael O'Neill, the Northern Ireland manager, hailed the efforts of his players after spoiling Cristiano Ronaldo's 100th cap for Portugal by claiming a 1-1 draw in Belfast.

Niall McGinn gave the visitors a shock lead against the run of play after half-an-hour and, despite dominating possession, Portugal had to wait until the 80th minute for Helder Postiga to equalise.

Portugal had chances to win the game in the closing stages as Nani, Varela and Eder all went close, the latter in an implausibly generous five minutes of injury time.

"I'm hugely proud of the effort and what the players gave us tonight.

"I think we saw a huge amount of character in this team.

"It's a huge result. I don't tend to get carried away and the main thing for me is that regardless of the result, I was proud to stand there tonight and be their manager.

"That's because of what they gave to the cause and to each other."

Scotland suffered a 2-0 defeat to Belgium in Brussels to all but end any hopes of salvaging their qualifying campaign, and push Craig Levein closer to the exit door.

The under-fire Scotland coach insisted he would not walk away from the job, despite seeing his side slump to the bottom of their qualifying group.

Christian Benteke bulleted home a header at the back post in the 69th minute to give Belgium the lead, which they doubled seconds later when Vincent Kompany collected the ball from Chelsea's Eden Hazard on the edge of the area and rifled an unstoppable shot past Allan McGregor.

Afterwards the Scotland coach said: "I'm very proud to be the Scotland national team manager and I want to continue to do so.

"I've been in football for long enough to understand when the players are trying at their maximum and they're doing their best for each other and for the team - and they did that tonight and on Friday night.

"I've seen again tonight a group of players who are determined and hungry and desperate to do well for Scotland.

"As far as I am aware, I'm still doing my job so you would have to ask other people the questions. I'm interested in staying in the job and working hard to improve things."

Chris Coleman, the Wales manager, was left to lament a defensive error by his side which handed Croatia advantage in their 2-0 defeat in Osijek.

Wales captain Ashley Williams underhit a back-pass just before the half-hour mark which goalkeeper Lewis Price could only strike against Mario Mandzukic, who duly tucked the ball home.

Eduardo then wrapped up a well-deserved win for Croatia with a close-range finish in the 58th minute.

"I thought our boys stuck at it and showed a lot of heart," Coleman said following the match. "They played with a lot of passion, and they had to just to stay in the game.

"But we make one mistake at the moment defensively and we get punished."

The Republic of Ireland cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Faroe Islands to ease some of the pressure on manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

he 73-year-old Italian started the day fighting for his job as Ireland manager amid claims that the Football Association were ready to ditch him after Friday night's 6-1 drubbing by Germany at the Aviva Stadium.

After a frustrating opening 45 minutes during which chances went begging, they needed just 43 seconds of the second half to take the lead when fullback Marc Wilson smashed home the first goal of his senior international career from 30 yards with the help of a slight deflection off fullback Jonas Naes.

It was 2-0 within seven minutes when Jon Walters headed Wilson's cross towards goal and as skipper Robbie Keane distracted keeper Gunnar Nielsen, the ball ended up in the net.

There was a brief scare for the Republic when substitute Arnbjorn Hansen headed Naes' 68th-minute cross past Keiren Westwood, but order was restored within five minutes by Pol Justinussen's own goal.

Defender Darren O'Dea made sure at the death when he converted an Aiden McGeady corner to wrap up a comfortable and much needed win.