England through to Euro 2012, Russia on brink

England clinched its place at the 2012 European Championship despite Wayne Rooney's sending-off in a 2-2 draw at Montenegro.

Updated: October 08, 2011 10:11 IST
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London: England clinched its place at the 2012 European Championship despite Wayne Rooney's sending-off in a 2-2 draw at Montenegro, while Croatia missed a chance to reach the finals by losing 2-0 to Greece in the penultimate round of qualifying matches on Friday.

Needing at least a draw to win Group G, England were 2-1 up thanks to goals by Ashley Young and Darren Bent when Rooney was shown a red card in the 74th minute for kicking out at defender Miodrag Dzudovic.

Andrija Delibasic's late equalizer ensured Montenegro clinched a playoff spot while England became the fifth team to qualify for the finals, after defending champion Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Ukraine and Poland did not need to qualify as host nations.

"He made a silly mistake when he kicked the opponent, I'm not happy, absolutely," England coach Fabio Capello said of Rooney, who looked to have controlled his temper in recent years. "We will find a solution to play without him (at the start of Euro 2012). We'll try some things out in the friendlies."

Captain John Terry and Capello were both concerned that England's form suffered late in the match.

"We let them back in the game and unfortunately they got the goal at the end, but we are through," Terry said.

Greece, European champions in 2004, moved two points above Croatia at the top of Group F with their win in Athens in a match that was suspended for six minutes after crowd trouble early in the game.

"I knew we would create chances ... We defended the Croats' counterattacks rather easily," said Greece's Portuguese coach Fernando Santos, who remains undefeated at Greece's helm.

The game was less than three minutes old when it was suspended. More than a 100 masked men, many of whom were also wearing motorcycle helmets, suddenly attacked the Croat supporters with flares and one petrol bomb. The Croats threw seats at their attackers and briefly scuffled with riot police, who used pepper spray.

Russia's 1-0 victory at Slovakia means they need just a draw against Andorra - who haven't picked up a point in nine games - in their final match to win Group B.

"I congratulate my players," Russia coach Dick Advocaat said. "We deserved to win."

Elsewhere in Group B, Ireland's 2-0 win at Andorra earned them a showdown with Armenia in Dublin on Tuesday that will decide which of the two goes to the playoffs, assuming Russia do not fail against the Andorrans. Ireland need only a draw to secure second place.

France and Bosnia-Herzegovina will meet in a winner-takes-all match in Paris on Tuesday to decide which team finishes first in Group D after both comfortably won on Friday.

The French, who haven't failed to qualify for a major tournament since missing out on the 1994 World Cup, beat Albania 3-0 at home thanks to goals by Florent Malouda, Loic Remy and Anthony Reveillere.

They are a point clear of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who thrashed Luxembourg 5-0 with striker Edin Dzeko among the scorers.

"We're going to start thinking about Tuesday's game right now," France coach Laurent Blanc said, a Euro 2000 winner as a player. "We know it's going to be decisive, we expected as much, but tonight's game is going to give us even more confidence."

Portugal and Denmark claimed high-scoring victories over Iceland and Cyprus respectively to remain level on points in Group H ahead of a meeting in Copenhagen that will decide which team finishes top.

Manchester United winger Nani grabbed a first-half double in Portugal's 5-3 win in Porto while Dennis Rommedahl scored twice and made a third in Denmark's 4-1 victory in Nicosia.

Portugal only need a point in Copenhagen on Tuesday having already beaten the Danes at home in qualifying. Norway are three points behind in third.

Spain, Germany and the Netherlands all won to stay perfect at the top of their groups.

Spain, the world and European champions, claimed a seventh straight victory in Group I by beating the Czech Republic 2-0 away thanks to goals by Juan Mata and Xabi Alonso.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's strike earned the Netherlands a 1-0 win over Moldova, its ninth victory in a row clinching first place in Group E, while Germany defeated Turkey 3-1 away through goals by Thomas Mueller, Mario Gomez and Bastian Schweinsteiger in Group A.

It was also the Germans' ninth straight win.

Sweden are assured of second place behind the Dutch after a 2-1 win in Finland.

Group C winners Italy drew 1-1 at Serbia, allowing Estonia to climb above the Serbs into second place with a 2-1 victory at Northern Ireland.

Serbia can still finish runners-up if they beats Slovenia away on Tuesday.

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