England Suffers a Disappointing Loss but Insist they can Still Qualify

Published June 13th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

England players vented their frustration at slumping to a 3-2 defeat against Portugal on Monday night at Eindhoven - but insisted they could come back and beat both Germany and Romania to qualify from Group A. 

Kevin Keegan's side appeared to be cruising after early goals from Paul Scholes and Steve McMamanan, but Portugal struck back in devastating fashion through Luis Figo, Joao Pinto and Nuno Gomes in a pulsating encounter. 

Having squandered a 2-0 lead, England now have a mountain to climb after their two other group rivals drew 1-1 in Liege. They face reigning European champions Germany on Saturday and Romania next Tuesday, both in the Belgian town of Charleroi. 

Morale among Kevin Keegan's men may have suffered a body-blow but, little more than an hour after the final whistle, several of his key players were already sounding the rallying cry. 

"We have to win our next two games," said skipper Alan Shearer, "anything else would be disastrous for us. We know we will have to defend better as a team against Germany, if we don't we know we are on our way back home. But we can bounce back and I believe we will." 

As to whether England could get the two wins they now need to stand a chance of reaching the last eight, Neville said: "Of course we can. 

"I think tonight you saw that there's goals in the team. I can see us scoring goals in any game we play and two wins is not impossible." 

World Cup hero Michael Owen, who was taken off by Keegan for Emile Heskey for the second half, admitted: "We conceded three today and that really killed us after such a good start. But we've got two games now and it's still in our own hands. 

"If we win them, we'll qualify. We've got to win the (Germany) game. I don't think a draw's going to be good enough, so we'll certainly be going all out to win and see how we like after that." 

England's best man in defense, Sol Campbell on Monday, summed up the mood in the dressing room saying: "We're down now, and we can't do anything about it because the game's gone. 

"But there's an even bigger game coming up and I think the lads are going to get together. We're going to go for it" - (AFP) 


© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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