Andros Townsend caps England debut with a goal

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For once the critics of England manager Roy Hodgson had to admire a masterstroke. Hodgson selected the Tottenham winger Andros Townsend to make his England debut against Montenegro while Jack Wilshere started the game on the bench. Townsend responded with a man-of-the-match performance capped by an outstanding long-range goal.

Townsend's strike midway through the second-half, was vital. England had seemed to be coasting with a two-goal lead but Montenegro had hit back through Dejan Damjanovic. England faced a nervy last twenty minutes until Townsend intervened. Daniel Sturridge made it 4-1 with a stoppage-time penalty.

"We agonised over selecting Andros Townsend," Hodgson admitted afterwards. "We argued back and forth and had a lot of time to think about it. To leave people like Jack Wilshere and James Milner out, with all the good work he's put in for us in this group and the attacking flair they bring, was not easy.”

In short, Hodgson, often characterised as cautious, took a gamble and, as he said, “It came off. We thought Andros's pace against a packed defence would open doors. He really performed on the night and made a big impact. It can't be easy for a young player making his debut in a game of that nature but he deserves the credit. He played with a calmness and composure I've seen when he's played for Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham. He made a big impact and must be delighted."

Hodgson must also take some credit. After a lacklustre first half, England emerged after half time with energy and commitment, and quickly scored when Townsend set up Rooney. Hodgson's faith in his 4-3-3 formation had paid off.

With Ukraine also winning, England need to beat Poland in the final qualifier to book a place in the finals in Brazil. Anything less and they could face an awkward play-off.

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