LONDON (AP) — Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard booked England's place at the World Cup on Tuesday, clinching a 2-0 victory over Poland and leaving Ukraine to settle for a place in the playoffs.
Rooney put England ahead with his seventh goal in his last six qualifiers, meeting Leighton Baines' cross to head in just before halftime.
"Getting the goal gave us some belief, the confidence to go on," Rooney said. "We believed we could win and then Stevie's goal has seen us qualify."
Gerrard bundled the ball into the net in the 88th to secure top spot in Group H for unbeaten England.
Ukraine, which needed England to slip up to qualify automatically, cruised to an 8-0 victory over bottom-place San Marino with Marko Devic scoring a hat trick.
The Group H runners-up will contest a two-legged playoff against a European rival next month for a place at the finals in Brazil.
England, though, is already preparing for its fifth consecutive World Cup, with Roy Hodgson the first English manager of the team to secure qualification since Glenn Hoddle in 1997. England was led into the 2002 and 2006 World Cups by Sven-Goran Eriksson, and into the 2010 tournament by Fabio Capello.
"I'm English and you can't get away from the fact it means a little bit more to you when you do it with your own nation," said Hodgson, who managed Switzerland at the 1994 World Cup that England missed out on.
The presence of at least 18,000 Polish fans inside Wembley made for a lively atmosphere, even though the visitors were already out of contention for the World Cup.
Poland seemed determined to end the campaign on a high, with Robert Lewandowski unsettling the England defense from the start.
The hosts, though, did have their chances — the first coming from Andros Townsend, who marked his England debut on Friday with a goal in the 4-1 victory over Montenegro.
Although Townsend's shot was repelled by Wojciech Szczesny, Danny Welbeck followed up with a diving header that went wide.
On a night when England had to be strong at the back, the defense was looking shaky, with Waldemar Sobota finding a way through but only hitting the sidenetting.
Even by the midway point of the first half, England was failing to contain the Polish threat, giving the ball away following its own corner and allowing Adrian Mierzejewski to a launch a counterattack. After picking up possession in his own half, Mierzejewski ran down the pitch before releasing Lewandowski, who could only sidefoot wide.
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