England gets Euro 2008 status back

England has its European Championship qualification back in its own hands, and it's because of Israel's 2-1 victory over Russia on Saturday.

updated: November 19, 2007 11:07 IST
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England has its European Championship qualification back in its own hands, and it's because of Israel's 2-1 victory over Russia on Saturday.

England now only needs a draw against Croatia on Wednesday to reach the final tournament in Austria and Switzerland.

"We have been given another chance to qualify and that has to motivate every player on Wednesday evening," England midfielder Steven Gerrard said.

"If we don't get there it will be so frustrating and we have to make sure we have the right mentality on Wednesday," he added.

Croatia lost at Macedonia 2-0 Saturday for its first setback in the group, but the Croats still qualified because of the Russian defeat.

If England beats Croatia at Wembley by more than three goals, it will mean Steve McClaren's under-fire team will advance as group winner.

It all looked so grim for England going into Saturday's matches.

A Russian victory in Israel would almost certainly have eliminated England by putting the team above England with a game to go. Russia is expected to beat last-place Andorra on Wednesday.

Instead, Croatia has 26 points, followed by England with 23 and Russia with 21.

England was expected to easily qualify from the group.

Instead, because of a poor start and a loss to Russia last month, England's players and coach were left nervously watching the Israel game - which was broadcast live on British television.

"To be in a situation where it's been out of our hands, and you are relying on other people, is not a situation you want to be in - and not a situation we should have been in," Gerrard said.

Israel won with an injury-time goal from Omer Golan.

Although England only needs a draw against Croatia, it will be without several key players.

Striker Michael Owen strained his thigh in Friday's 1-0 friendly win at Austria and Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand are also on the sidelines.

"It will be difficult but I am convinced we will get the result we need and we will qualify for Austria and Switzerland," said McClaren, who is likely to be fired if England's record of appearing at six straight major tournaments is broken.

"I have said several times in the last few weeks, the campaign was not over until it was over. I always believed it would come down to the Croatia game and thankfully it has," McClaren added.

The experienced Sol Campbell and newcomer Joleon Lescott should fill in for Terry and Ferdinand, so it is up front where England could struggle most.

"You want to be in charge of your own destiny and it's been frustrating that we've had to come down to waiting for another result for us to qualify," Crouch said. "We believe we're better than that. It's not a position we should have been in."

Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Alan Smith all candidates to play.