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Qualifying Shadow Looms over Decent England Performance

So England didn't lose to the Netherlands Thursday-in fact it didn't even play badly-but even a "creditable" 1-1 draw in Amserdam can't hide the fact that England is currently losing the battle to qualify for Euro 2008, writes The Guardian's Trevor Higgins. After Croatia's 4-3 victory over Israel and Russia's 2-0 win in Macedonia, England fell to third in Group E, level on points with both Israel and Macedonia. Coach Steve McClaren will be happy enough with yesterday's friendly: the Red Lions passed the ball well and defended solidly for 86 minutes, until Rafael van der Vaart equalized off a throw-in, which brought back memories of the horrific equalizer England suffered at the hands of Sweden in the World Cup this summer. It was a great debut as well for Manchester City's Micah Richards, who at right back kept the usually pesky Arjen Robben quiet for 90 minutes. England will also take heart from the first Wayne Rooney goal for more than a year-the Manchester United striker is still struggling to find his goal scoring form for both club and country. Euro 2008 qualifying is now put to bed until March, when England will have to resurrect the kind of form they showed last night in Tel Aviv.

Read the whole story at The Guardian »

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