Thanks to a combination of England's win over Austria, and Holland's defeat of the Czech Republic, England will be playing in the World Cup Finals next summer in Germany. The result in the
Czech Republic means that both 1st and 2nd placed teams in UEFA Qualifying Group 6 go through to the Finals - the second placed team qualifying as a best runner-up. The actual final placing
of England and Poland in Group 6 will go down to the last game on Wednesday, when fittingly both teams play each other in a fight for top spot.
England's victory was initially over-shadowed by the sending-off of David Beckham. It was his second international career red card, and the first for an England captain. He was given two yellow cards for challenges on Ibertsberger, the second one did not seem worthy of a caution but the referee felt otherwise. Beckham's first yellow card meant that he would miss England's game against Poland thanks to yellow card accumulation, which was a serious blow to England had the home side needed to win that match to qualify. As it happens, this seems not to be such a big deal now that England have already qualified for the Finals.
England took the lead in the 25th minute thanks to a controversial penalty when Scharner pulled down Owen just inside the box. With Beckham having handed over penalty kick taking to Frank
Lampard, the Chelsea player stepped forward to take his first international spot-kick and made no mistake when he sent Macho the wrong way and put his country in the lead. There seemed to be a more clear cut decision of England being awarded a penalty in the 41st minute when Owen was knocked down by Dober but Cantalejo waved for play to continue.
Three minutes after the half-time break Owen almost extended England's lead but Macho smoothered the ball at the Newcastle United player's feet. With only one goal separating the teams, England's lead was fragile, especially when Linz's lob was only saved by the woodwork. Just before the hour mark, England were reduced to 10 men when Beckham was sent-off after getting two yellow cards for challenges on Ibertsberger. The latter caution did seem harsh. Then England suffered another blow when Sol Campbell, in his first game for his country in many months after injury, was forced to leave the field with a hamstring problem.
Lampard had a couple of chances on goal in the latter stages of the game but England in the end held on to a 1-0 victory. On Wednesday Wayne Rooney will return after serving a suspension which will hopefully ignite England's attack, and should see the unimpressive Crouch sitting on the bench.
While England's qualification for the 2006 World Cup Finals should be celebrated, there are seven months until the Finals start and England need to improve during this time if they have any chance of shining in Germany.
Robinson #1, Campbell #6 (R Ferdinand 65 mins - #14), Carragher #3, Terry #5, Young #2, Beckham #7, J Cole #11 (King 62 mins - #12), Gerrard #4, Lampard #8, Crouch #9, Owen #10 (Richardson 81 mins - #16).
Subs Not Used: Kirkland #13, Wright-Phillips #15, Bent #17, Defoe #18. (Full Squad)
Macho #1, Dober #2, Ibertsberger #5, Scharner #4, Aufhauser #6, Ivanschitz #10, Kiesenebner #8, Schopp #7 (Kuljic 64 mins - #18), Stranzl #3, Linz #9,
Weissenberger #11 (Sariyar 46 mins - #15).
Subs Not Used: Schranz #21, Feldhofer #13, Saumel #16, Standfest #14.
England Goal: Lampard (25 mins - pen).
England Dismissal: Beckham (59 mins)
England Cautions: J Cole (28 mins), Beckham (58 mins)
Austria Cautions: Ivanschitz (24 mins), Schopp (24 mins), Kiesenebner (74 mins)
Referee: Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain)