Once again England have left it late in trying to seal a place in a tournament, and once again they are relying on the results of other teams to go their way, in order to qualify for Euro 2008. With the talent McClaren has at his disposal it's frustrating that England's fate is now out of their hands. That said, the result was unfair in a way as Russia's first goal should not have been, but more on that later.
It was always going to be a tough match in Moscow, especially playing on an artificial surface which had been heavily watered prior kick-off to favour the homeside. Missing from England's line-up were Ashley Cole, who was injured in the Estonia game four days earlier, and captain John Terry who was still suffering with a knee problem. Eleven minutes into the game Russia were pleading with the referee for a penalty but protests went unanswered. Despite applying pressure, Russia went a goal behind in the 29th minute thanks to a fantastic volley by Wayne Rooney. Micah Richards had played the ball up the field to Michael Owen, who found his strike partner open and poised ready to strike. From this point until later in the match it did look as though England had the three points from the game, however it wasn't to be. Gerrard missed a great opportunity to extend England's lead four minutes into the second half, when his shot went into the side netting.
It all started to go wrong for England in the 69th minute when Wayne Rooney brought down Zurianov. While the incident occured outside the area, the referee awarded a penalty which substitue Pavlunchenko put past Robinson. Just four minutes later Pavlunchenko was the hero in Moscow as his goal won the match for Hiddink's side. Robinson had knocked away the initial shot from Alexei Berezutsky, but the ball fell to Pavlunchenko who knocked the ball into England's net as the Three Lions heads dropped.
England did push forward to try to get an equalizing goal but Russia almost scored a third goal. So England left Russia hoping that either Israel and/or Andorra can cause an upset and take points away from Russia. England's fate in reaching the finals next summer could be sealed before their next competitive match on 21 November, but let's hope it does go to the last game so England's hopes are kept alive. To think that England may miss a major tournament next summer is unthinkable, but it could be reality next month.
Gabulov #30, Aniukov #22, A Berezutsky #27, V Berezutsky #2 (Torbinsky 46 mins - #7), Ignashevich #5, Bilyaletdinov #15, Semshov #20, Zhirkov #18, Zurianov #17, Arshavin #10 (Kolodin 90 mins - #25), Kerzhakov #11 (Pavluchenko 58 mins - #9).
Subs Not Used: Malafeev #16, Shirokov #14, Pogrebniak #13, Sychev #26.
Robinson #1, Campbell #6, Ferdinand #5, Lescott #3 (Lampard 79 mins - #15), Richards #2, Barry #7, J Cole #11 (Crouch 80 mins - #18), Gerrard #4 - Captain, Wright-Phillips #8 (Downing 80 mins - #17), Owen #10, Rooney #9.
Subs Not Used: James #13, P Neville #16, Shorey #12, Young #14. (Full Squad)
Russia Goals: Pavluchenko (69 mins (pen) & 73 mins)
England Goal: Rooney (29 mins)
Russia Cautions: V Berezutsky (14 mins), Pavluchenko (75 mins)
England Cautions: Ferdinand (57 mins), Rooney (68 mins)
Referee: Luis Medina Cantelejo (Spain)