|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Russia, Sweden, Portugal at Euro; England out
November 22, 2007 08:14 IST
Russia [Images] joined Sweden, Turkey and Portugal as the last four qualifiers for next year's European championship on Wednesday after England's [Images] hopes were shattered in a 3-2 defeat by Croatia at Wembley Stadium.
Russia were the 16th and final team to reach Euro 2008 [Images] in Switzerland [Images] and Austria next June after Guus Hiddink's men leapfrogged England in Group E with a 1-0 victory in Andorra. Croatia had already qualified last weekend.
Sweden booked their place with a 2-1 victory over Latvia in Stockholm, Turkey made sure with a 1-0 win over visitors Bosnia and a 0-0 draw was enough for Portugal at home to Finland.
The night's real drama was at Wembley, where England needed only a draw to go through but were 2-0 down within 14 minutes after goals from Niko Kranjcar and Ivica Olic.
They rallied in the second half with a Frank Lampard [Images] penalty and a 65th minute strike by Peter Crouch, only to squander their chance to qualify by conceding a third goal to substitute Mladen Petric in the 77th minute.
England coach Steve McClaren, who has been under pressure from the sceptical British media for most of the campaign, made it clear he would not resign.
"I've no intention of doing that, I've no intention of discussing my future," McClaren told Sky Sports News.
The Football Association has called a board meeting for Thursday morning after England's failure to reach the European championship finals for the first time since 1984.
Former captain David Beckham [Images], who picked up his 99th cap after coming on as a substitute to set up Crouch's equaliser, said: "Everyone's down, everyone's disappointed.
"But we realise as players that if we don't perform we don't deserve to go through. There can't be any excuses, at the end of the day we haven't won."
McClaren, who succeeded Sven-Goran Eriksson as coach after the 2006 World Cup, can expect a huge backlash from fans and media alike for the disappointing display and the outcome.
Dmitri Sychev, who hit the post in Russia's 2-1 defeat by Israel on Saturday, made no mistake this time by heading Russia's winner in Andorra to seal their place.
Striker Nihat Kahveci fired Turkey's winner against Bosnia in Istanbul, while Sweden's Kim Kallstrom got their second goal against Latvia in a game they only needed to draw before a pulsating end to the European championship qualifiers.
Germany [Images] were the first country to emerge from the group competition in mid-October, while the 2006 World Cup winners Italy [Images] and beaten finalists France [Images] were among those to come through last weekend along with fellow favourites Netherlands.
Holders Greece, the surprise winners at Euro 2004, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Croatia complete the lineup. The two host nations qualified automatically.