Needing victory to conserve top spot in European qualifying Group H, England met their objective thanks to a 41st-minute header from Rooney and a late strike from the captain, Gerrard.
It was an evening of cloying intensity for Roy Hodgson's side, however, as Poland, backed by around 18,000 raucous fans, threatened to pull off a repeat of their 1-1 draw in London 40 years ago that had denied England a place at the 1974 World Cup.
Instead, a pair of goals made in Merseyside saw England home, meaning that Hodgson can now look forward to becoming only the sixth Englishman to manage England at a World Cup in Brazil next year.
"I'm greatly satisfied," said Hodgson.
"It was a tough group -- both Montenegro and Poland showed themselves to be great opponents, both home and away.
"We played some sensational football in the first half and we dug in very well and controlled them in the second.
"We've been working together for 18 months and the way we play has changed. We're getting better all the time and hopefully will get better still. The players really are a group and they trust each other."
England finished the campaign unbeaten, a point clear at the top of the group above Ukraine, whose 8-0 win away to San Marino was to prove in vain, with Poland nine points off the pace in fourth place.
"We tried to prove we can play as a unit and as a team, that we still have some strength in our team," said Poland coach Waldemar Fornalik.
"Looking at the goals and the points, the perception of our overall performance is different from the assessment of the way we played."