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Rooney and Gerrard secure World Cup place for England

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England booked a summer in Brazil for 2014 with a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley. An edgy victory was secured by goals by two of the old guard, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard late in each half. It left Roy Hodgson's team unbeaten in qualifying.

Although Poland had nothing to play for, nearly 20,000 of their supporters turned up to give Wembley the most electric atmosphere it has witnessed in recent memory. When England missed a series of chances to take the lead, there were worries that it could turn into a frustrating night.

The hero of the previous qualifier, against Montenegro, Andros Townsend, nearly repeated his feats with a 25 yard shot that cannoned off the crossbar, before Rooney broke the deadlock with another vital goal.

The second half was still fraught with anxiety as Poland threatened on the break and Joe Hart pulled off a brilliant stop from Robert Lewandowski, before Gerrard's late goal ensured qualification.

Roy Hodgson said that taking England to a World Cup would be the pinnacle of his career. "I'm English. As an Englishman, this means an awful lot," he said. "There'll be a lot of pressure on us in Brazil but this team is growing and accepting that pressure. The blend between the senior and young players looks good. We'll use the next six or seven months to reflect on the tournament."

The England manager's record looks more impressive at the end of qualifying. As well as finishing unbeaten, England were the third highest-scorers of any qualifiers.

For England's senior players like Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Gerrard, Brazil will be a last attempt at a major tournament. As Hodgson indicated though, there are plenty of younger players for whom international football seems to present few fears. In Leighton Baines and Townsend, Hodgson also seems to have uncovered players who can provide consistent threats from the wings.

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