'Magnificent' night, but England's World Cup hopes slight: pressAgence France-Presse . London / New Age Online
England's newspapers on Wednesday celebrated their national team's passage to the 2016 football World Cup on an "utterly magnificent night" at Wembley, but played down hopes of glory in Brazil.
Goals from talismanic striker Wayne Rooney and midfielder Steven Gerrard helped England to a 2-0 win over Poland at a noisy Wembley, which contained around 30,000 away fans, and ensured they finished top of group H.
"Off to B-roo-zil", said the Sun's back-page headline, in praise of England's goalscorer.
The popular tabloid took partial credit for the result after urging readers to rub a pair of lucky Brazil nuts printed in Tuesday's edition.
The Daily Mail carried a picture of Rooney's headed goal on its back page, along with the headline "Heading for Brazil".
The paper's chief sports writer Martin Samuel praised England's "positivity" over their last two matches and hailed often-criticised manager Roy Hodgson for picking Tottenham rookie Andros Townsend, who put in another dynamic performance on Tuesday.
The Daily Telegraph ran with headline "Happy and Glorious" across a photograph of a celebrating Rooney.
"This was a raucous, draining and utterly magnificent night," said Henry Winter.
"No play-offs, no summer off, England are off to Brazil."
He lauded Hodgson's ability to rise above the critics, but issued a word of warning.
"Vastly superior opposition await in Brazil," he wrote. "Some of the youngsters like Andros Townsend are maturing promisingly but need to deliver week in, week out.
"Yet this was a time to celebrate."
The Times said England had provided a "timely reminder that international football is still alive and kicking."
The Guardian's front-page also carried a picture of Rooney next to the headline: "The boys for Brazil", but also played down their chances in next year's tournament.
"England expects. Although perhaps not, in the circumstances, that much," wrote Barney Ronay.
"For all the bravura attacking enthusiasm of England's two-legged qualification finale, there will be a sense of caution about exactly what might be in store in Brazil.
"Roy Hodgson will have no illusions both about the moderate strength of Group H and also the likely effects of allowing one of the tournament favourites the same kind of space in midfield Poland enjoyed at times," he warned.
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