Home > England, Euro 2008, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales > Israel 2 Russia 1 (plus a round-up of Scotland, Wales, North+Rep of Ireland)

Israel 2 Russia 1 (plus a round-up of Scotland, Wales, North+Rep of Ireland)

Well, Israel did it. Russia crumbled and the draw that kept their hopes alive was dashed when straight after hitting Israel’s post, they conceded a last-minute equaliser.
England coach Steve McLaren reinforced his god-like status when he revealed how he was always sure it would come down to the final game against Croatia. Fair play Steve. Maybe England lost to Russia last time out on purpose.
The Sunday Times’ Joe Lovejoy reveals today that several sources in the FA have revealed McLaren is on borrowed time regardless of Wednesday’s result at home to Croatia.

Russia coach Guus Hiddink has stated that Croatia will win Wednesday night’s game against England, but Croatia coach Slaven Bilic has stated that he will be happy with a draw which will guarantee Croatia top spot in the group. Still, Croatia’s 2-0 defeat to Macedonia last night will have Croatia revved up for a final competitive game before next years Championships in Austria and Switzerland.

England? The omens are good given their history of leaving it late to qualify. Croatia being safely through to next years finals is another plus point, though knocking out England would still be a huge morale-boost for them after a disappointing performance last night.
The question really is how will England perform on the night. Needing a win to go through may have caused them problems, however I suspect a draw being enough will see them through.

Comiserations to Scotland who were extremely unlucky to be beaten yesterday by all accounts. They will wake up this morning and wonder what might have been had they not fallen behind after just 70 seconds to a Luca Toni strike. That they could have won the game before Panucci’s late winner speaks volumes for their progress this season and the results they have put together this term will stand to them for future qualifying campaigns.

There is also hope for the future. Yesterday’s midfield of Brown, Ferguson, Fletcher and McCullogh with Hartley sitting in behind them and McFadden up top, is a sextet that can be the basis of a good Scotland team for the future. Craig Gordon is an excellent young keeper and can replicate someone like Shay Given for Ireland, who have often had to rely on their no.1 to gain them points.

Alex McLeish will hopefully stick around for two years, unlike Walter Smith and Lawrie Sanchez, both of whom left their national sides in terrific shape only for their hopes to fall away (Latvia won’t beat Sweden, Northern Ireland will come close but not close enough).

Wales and the Republic of Ireland played out a 2-2 draw in front of a sparcely populated crowd at the Millenium Stadium. John Toshack will surely not be taking Wales into 2010 so both football associations have to get it right with their next managerial appointments.

Sentiment in the case of Toshack and Staunton, clouded judgement, and the time has come for both to at least show the heart and passion that has brought Scotland and Northern Ireland so close this time. Both will sturggle for seeding for the 2010 groups, but both nations have teams which are under-performing and owe their fans more.

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