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EC Qualification

  • October 7, 2011
  • • 3:00 PM
  • • Stadion Pod Goricom, Podgorica
  • Referee: W. Stark
  • • Attendance: 11340

Montenegro 2-2 England: Fabio Capello’s side snatch Euro 2012 place but Wayne Rooney red card overshadows qualification

Montenegro 2-2 England: Fabio Capello’s side snatch Euro 2012 place but Wayne Rooney red card overshadows qualification

Getty Images

Early goals looked set to seal a comfortable night for the Three Lions, but a goal on the stroke of halftime and a sending off made for a nervy finish after the host's late strike

England qualified for Euro 2012 after securing a 2-2 draw against Montenegro, though it was a mixed evening for the Three Lions as they gave away a two-goal lead.

The visitors had led through early goals from Ashley Young and Darren Bent, but were pegged back just before halftime. Montenegro's goals came from Elsad Zverotić and Andrija Delibasic.

Wayne Rooney received a needless sending off that will rule him out of the opening of Euro 2012 before Montenegro picked up a late equalizer.

Phil Jones, on his England debut, almost opened the scoring in the third minute, taking on two players before firing in a cross that popped out of Mladen Bozovic's hands and over the bar.

Bozovic was in action soon after, awkwardly getting down to block Theo Walcott's volley from the edge of the area following a bright start from the visitors.

Montenegro did threaten in and around the area, but lacked the end product that was produced in the 10th minute as Rooney found Theo Walcott in acres of space on the right wing, who quite brilliantly found Young at the far post to nod home.

The game slowed to near walking pace over the course of the next 20 minutes, with Fabio Capello angry at his team for decreasing the tempo. But on the half-hour mark, England increased its lead and seemed to have all but sealed qualification for next year's finals.

Gareth Barry won the ball in midfield and shifted the ball to Scott Parker, who found Rooney in space in the centre of the pitch. Rooney slid the ball into Young with a perfectly weighted through-ball, and Young squared the ball for Bent to finish.

It was a devastating counterattack from the Three Lions, and the simplicity of both goals underlined the lack of quality in the Montenegro defense.

But right on the stroke of halftime, Montenegro cut the deficit in half as Elsad Zverotic found himself in far too much space in the area as he chested down and volleyed the ball towards goal, as it took a deflection off Gary Cahill's foot and into the corner of the net with Joe Hart helpless.

A lot of the second half progressed without note, as the sides became bogged down in a midfield battle, with Parker and Barry effectively shielding the defence.

The flow of the game wasn't helped by Capello introducing a third central midfielder into an already crowded section, as Bent and Young made way for Frank Lampard and Stewart Downing.

And in the 73rd minute, Rooney took out his frustrations at becoming a marginal figure on the match by swinging a boot in anger in the direction of Dzudovic. His action was needless, and the striker received a straight red card.

It was a tackle that his teammates will not thank him for, given that they were forced to see out the rest of the game a man down, and Rooney himself will pay the price of missing the opening of next summer's final tournament.

With five minutes to go Hart was called into action, making a fine stop to push the ball around the post. And immediately after England fans' hearts were in mouths, as Jovetic played a clever one-two before going down in the area under pressure from John Terry.

The referee, however, saw that it was the slightest of touches from Terry, and produced a yellow card for simulation.

But following continued pressure on the England goal, Montenegro drew level in the 91st minute as Savic's cross from the right went deep to the far post where Joe Hart could not reach, and was headed in by Andrija Delibasic to earn the hosts a draw.

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