England duo Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge moved a step closer to World Cup qualification on Friday evening, while goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will travel to Brazil after Belgium definitively booked their spot.

Gerrard played 86 minutes and Sturridge featured for the whole encounter at Wembley as Roy Hodgson's team saw off Montenegro 4-1 to retain first place in Group H with one fixture remaining.

The latter sealed a handsome win for the home team in stoppage time, earning a penalty with an incisive dribble into the box and instantly stepping up to convert calmly from 12 yards.

Sturridge unleashed a number of efforts on goal during the first half without unduly troubling Montenegro, while Gerrard worked Vukasin Poleksic twice in quick succession.

First, on 33 minutes, the skipper launched a typically vicious, dipping piledriver which the 'keeper had to push away low to his left, before the midfielder then sent a slightly weaker attempt on target.

As the opening period drew to a close, a Three Lions corner arrived nicely for Sturridge in space at the back post, but the striker unfortunately sliced his shot wide of Montenegro's left post.

Seconds later, the 24-year-old diverted a Wayne Rooney centre goalwards with an eye-catching back-heel flick which the visiting stopper was equal to, ensuring a 0-0 scoreline at the break.

England needed just three minutes after the restart to take an important lead; Rooney capitalised on a rebound from Danny Welbeck's strike to slot low underneath the 'keeper and into the net.

A second goal followed just after the hour mark. Sturridge released Welbeck on the left flank and the Manchester United man's cross was knocked into his own goal by Branko Boskovic.

Poleksic had to react quickly and smartly to deny a left-footed Gerrard effort before Montenegro reduced their arrears with 20 minutes left on the clock through Dejan Damjanovic.

England guaranteed their win, however, when Tottenham winger Andros Townsend collected possession, dribbled forward and smashed an accurate drive inside the post for 3-1.

Sturridge added icing to an enjoyable cake for Hodgson and England in the closing moments of the match, winning and stroking home a penalty to claim his second goal for the Three Lions.


A win over Poland on Tuesday night would now ensure that Gerrard, Sturridge and likely Glen Johnson will join club teammate Mignolet in travelling to next summer's showpiece event.

Mignolet was an unused substitute as Belgium booked their place at next year's tournament in Brazil with a 2-1 victory over Group A rivals Croatia in Zagreb. They complete their campaign at home to Wales in four days' time.

Daniel Agger captained Denmark and completed the full 90 minutes during their 2-2 draw at home to Italy in Group B, with former Reds midfielder Alberto Aquilani scoring a last-minute equaliser for the visitors.

That outcome means Agger and co need to beat Malta on Tuesday evening and hope other results help their cause if they are to have any chance of securing a play-off spot.

Slovakia skipper Martin Skrtel had the misfortune of conceding an own goal in his country's 1-0 defeat by Greece in Group G, although their chances of reaching the World Cup had already been extinguished.

Summer signing Mamadou Sakho was introduced at half-time and played the second 45 minutes as France cruised to an emphatic 6-0 friendly triumph over Australia at the Parc des Princes.