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Date: 26 September 2017

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Euro qualifiers: England qualifies for finals

[Posted 08 Oct 2011]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Euro qualifiers: England qualifies for finals

England became the seventh European nation to book their place at the finals of the European Championships to be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine in 2012 following a hard-fought 2-2 draw away at Montenegro on Friday night.

Playing with their usual attacking flair in a 4-42 formation, the Three Lions were first to get out of the blocks, and scored as early as the 11th minute through Ashley Young, after some spirited run and a fine cross from Theo Walcott.

Twenty minutes later, Young turned provide, and neatly set up Darren Bent who put England 2-0 up. The goal was a result of a great counter attack involving Wayne Rooney.

A moment before halftime, Montenegro refused to be cowed by the visitors and reponded with a clinical goal by Elsad Zverotic, and little did the English know that that was the beginning of a fight back by the home team.

With 20 minutes left before full time, Rooney needlessly lost his cool, kicking from behind  Miodrag Dzudovic and earning himself a deserved sending-off to put his team mates under enormous pressure.

The Montenegrins were to make their numerial advantage count in the final twnty minutes, but Fabio Capello's boys tried as hard as they could to hold onto their slender 2-1 lead.

The Three Lions' resolve to hold onto the 2-1 lead was finally broken in the first minute of time added on by the referee, when Andrija Delibasic headed in an equaliser to spark wild celebrations in the stands as Montenegro booked themselves a place in the play-offs.

The English also had celebrations of their own, as they joined Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, as well as hosts Poland and Ukraine at the finals in 2012. 

Elsewhere, Fifa.com reports that Sweden and Montenegro both ensured that they would finish second in their respective groups, earning themselves a slot in the play-off round. These knockout ties will see the eight group runners-up paired off to decide the last four participants that will travel to Poland and Ukraine. The final round of fixtures will be played on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, newspapers in England have not taken lightly Rooney's moment of madness and the newspaper lines are littere with a barrage of criticism of the Manchester United forward.

"We will Roo this moment", "Roo Fool!" and "An Idiot Abroad" read some of the headlines.

Capello, like a good father figure that he has tried to be ever since he assumed the manager's role in the England technical set-up, sprung to the defence of his most important striker, and further defended his decision to field Rooney in the midst of a family storm which sw his father arrested by police over a betting scam mid-week.

"It was no mistake to pick him. I spoke with him before the game and he was relaxed and calm, then went out on the pitch and made this silly mistake," the Italian told reporters.

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