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Montenegro holds England to 1-1 draw in qualifier

Tuesday - 3/26/2013, 7:37pm  ET

England's Wayne Rooney, center left, and Montenegro's Vladimir Volkov, 3rd right, jump for a ball during their World Cup Group H qualifying match in Podgorica, Montenegro, Tuesday, March 26, 2013. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic)

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) -- Montenegro remained two points ahead of England atop Group H after Dejan Damjanovic's goal in the 76th minute salvaged a 1-1 draw for the hosts Tuesday night.

Each team has four qualifiers left, including what could be a key rematch Oct. 13 at Wembley.

"This is a great result for us, that gives us a good chance to qualify for the World Cup," Montenegro striker Mirko Vucinic said.

The draw will be a setback for England coach Roy Hodgson, who had made several changes from the team that thrashed San Marino 8-0 on Friday -- bringing in Steven Gerrard for his 102nd cap, along with fellow midfielders Michael Carrick and James Milner, plus Ashley Cole and Danny Welbeck.

England started well, taking the lead in the sixth minute when Wayne Rooney headed in a corner from Gerrard after being left unmarked. It dominated the first half, with Rooney missing a chance to double the score in the 27th when he failed to convert Milner's pass across the face of the goal.

But with nothing to lose, Montenegro started attacking right from the start of the second half.

"I told my players at halftime that they have nothing to fear from the England team," Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic said. "I told them they are not better than us. And, they delivered."

Under pressure, the England players went from retaining the ball to being completely overrun and failing to create any real attacking threat.

The first chance for Montenegro came in the 47th minute when Stevan Jovetic's header narrowly missed the target. Ten minutes later, the Fiorentina midfielder tried to lob England goalkeeper Joe Hart with a long-range effort on the break.

Vucinic unleashed a shot in the 72nd that fizzed past the post, and minutes later Hart needed to make a diving save to deflect Jovetic's drive. But there was nothing he could do with Damjanovic's shot, taken from close range after a melee in a packed England goalmouth.

England pushed forward in hopes of getting the winner, and Montenegro goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic made a nice save on a free kick by Gerrard in the closing stages.


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