Roy Hodgson admitted England paid a heavy World Cup price on Tuesday night for not finishing Montenegro off when they were down.
England produced possibly their best 45 minutes under Hodgson to seize the initiative in Podgorica through Wayne Rooney's sixth-minute goal.
But after wasting a succession of chances, and failing to get a penalty when Stefan Savic brought down Danny Welbeck, England were hit by a tidal wave of home attacks after the interval that eventually brought Montenegro their reward when Dejan Damjanovic scored from close range.
"I don't think Danny would have been wanting to go down in that situation," said Hodgson of the penalty incident.
"But there were several times in that first half where we got behind the defence and were close to creating that opportunity.
"When you do that and don't score, you run the risk that this Montenegro team will come out and play. I thought we stood up to it quite well, but they equalised in the 76th minute and we didn't have time to come back again."
It leaves England in a tricky position as Montenegro retain their two-point lead in Group H, but know they will have a chance to extend it when they entertain Ukraine in June, when England do not have a fixture.
"It's in our hands because we still have to play Montenegro and Poland at home," said Hodgson.
"It goes back to the Ukraine result at home, where we drew when we'd like to have won.
"Maybe the Ukraine away could be crucial for us.
"But with three out of the last four at home it's still in our hands. We hope to make sure it remains in our hands by winning those matches."
Mystifyingly, Hodgson waited until virtually the final 10 minutes before making a change.
And the introduction of Ashley Young for Tom Cleverley worked too as it helped stem the flow of home attacks and allowed England to finish the contest back on the front foot.
"We were trying to hold on to make the change at a slightly later time and wanted to move Steven Gerrard deeper and move Ashley into the wide position," said Hodgson.
"But they scored as we made it.
"You're always debating changes but at 1-0 we weren't 100% convinced there was a change we could make to make a vast difference to what was going on."
There was one unfortunate post-script after the final whistle when a supporter who had been using a loud-hailer to whip up the crowd, uttered an obscenity about England when their fans were still in the stadium.
With the game twice having to be stopped due to objects being thrown on the pitch, it did not paint the Montenegro supporters in a positive light for all the immense noise they made.
"That is the way you support your national team, except for some objects that were thrown onto the pitch but that happens sometimes," said Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic.