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England's Euro 2008 hopes shattered by Croatia


England have failed to qualify for the European football championship, co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria next June.

The English lost 3-2 to Croatia at home in their last match of the qualifying round. Russia, Sweden, Portugal and Turkey clinched the remaining places at the Euro 2008 finals.

Kranjčar and Olić scored for Croatia in the first half of the match at London's rebuilt Wembley stadium on Wednesday.

But England came back with goals by Lampard (on penalty) and Crouch, before Mladen Petrić – a former player for Swiss club sides Grasshoppers Zurich and Basel - drilled a left-foot shot past the English keeper Carson from 25 metres to score the winning 3-2.

It is the first time the English team have missed a major tournament since the 1994 World Cup.

The result allowed Russia to seal the second place in the qualifying group E after defeating minnows Andorra 1-0 away with a goal by Sychev.

England manager Steve McClaren looks set to lose his job after a series of controversial decisions during the qualifying phase which ended with Wednesday's disastrous defeat.

Observers described England's performance as one of their most inept displays in living memory.

Narrow victories

In other crucial matches, Sweden and Turkey also qualified for the Euro 2008 finals with narrow victories at home. Sweden won 2-1 against Latvia, while favourites Turkey defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 in Istanbul.

Portugal and Finland ended their match in Porto on a goalless 0-0 draw which allowed the southern Europeans to qualify.

Besides the two host countries Austria and Switzerland, 14 additional squads clinched a place at the tournament.

They include defending champions Greece, Germany, France, World Cup winners Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania and Poland.

The draw for the four groups of the Euro 2008 tournament is scheduled for December 2 in the Swiss city of Lucerne.

On Tuesday Switzerland lost 1-0 against Nigeria in their latest friendly match. It was the second consecutive defeat in a series of games which are part of the build-up to the Euro 2008.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The following 16 teams have qualified for the Euro 2008 tournament in Switzerland and Austria:

Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey.

50 teams took part in 12 or 14 matches depending on the size of the eight qualifying groups.

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Euro 2008

Co-hosts Switzerland and Austria qualified automatically for the Euro 2008 tournament, which takes place from June 7-29, 2008.

The winners and runners-up in the seven qualifying groups will also go through. The composition of the four groups of the Euro 2008 tournament will be decided on December 2.

15 of the 31 Euro 2008 matches will be played in Switzerland, including the opening match in Basel on June 7. Austria hosts 16 games and stages the final in Vienna on June 29.

A total of 1.05 million tickets have been issued. Up to 5.4 million football fans are expected to follow the tournament in Switzerland, including 1.4 from abroad.

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