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Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Late penalty breaks English hearts
England 2-3 Romania
(Charleroi - Att: 30,000)
England saw a place in the quarter-finals ripped cruelly from their grasp as Romania snatched victory with a dramatic late penalty.
Alan Shearer's penalty and a Michael Owen goal in first-half injury time had looked like securing the point England needed to scrape through in Group A.
But Phil Neville's ugly late tackle on Viorel Moldovan gave substitute Ioan Ganea the chance to send stand-in keeper Nigel Martyn the wrong way from the penalty spot and break England's hearts in Charleroi.
England's night of pain got off to a disastrous start before a ball had even been kicked as goalkeeper David Seaman was forced to pull out through injury just minutes before kick off.
That meant a last-minute call-up for Martyn, but if the Leeds keeper was nervous it did not show as England made a hesitant start in front of him.
Martyn was called into action inside five minutes as Martin Keown's foul on Adrian Mutu gave Adrian Ilie the chance to whip in a vicious free kick from the edge of the area, only for Martyn to brilliantly palm the shot away at full stretch to his left.
But England failed to read the warning signs and found themselves behind midway through the first half.
Cristian Chivu was the Romanian hero, though his goal came attached with a huge slice of good fortune.
Chivu was looking for Moldovan at the far post after turning Gary Neville in the penalty area, but his left-foot cross drifted cruelly in off Martyn's far post to the surprise of everyone - including the goalscorer himself.
That was the only surprise though, as Romania fully deserved their advantage and could easily have extended the lead.
First, Ilie wasted a glorious opening when he headed straight at Martyn after Dan Petrescu's cross had found him onside but unmarked on the penalty spot.
Then, 10 minutes before half time, Ajax teenager Chivu was inches away from his second goal with a rasping drive that flew just over the crossbar.
But England were gifted a lifeline when Shearer gave Ince the chance to run clear and Chivu turned from hero to villain with a challenge that gave Swiss referee Urs Meier little option but to point to the spot.
The transformation was complete three minutes into injury time when Paul Scholes chipped over the defence for Owen to run clear as the flag stayed down.
Owen made no mistake, cleverly clipping the ball beyond Stelea before sliding the ball home from a rapidly narrowing angle.
Having got themselves dramatically off the hook however, England were winched firmly back up onto it just three minutes into the second half.
Martyn came for a cross which really had little to do with him and his clearance fell straight to the waiting Dorinel Munteanu, who chested the ball down before drilling it back beyond the despairing dive of Martyn as he attemped to put right his error.
That left the match on a knife edge, as England looked uncertain whether to push for a winner or protect the point that would secure their quarter final place.
Their hesitancy was in evidence on the hour when Ilie almost cashed in, but half-volleyed straight at Martyn when well placed from Mutu's cross.
But any doubts surrounding Kevin Keegan's tactics were soon dispelled when he replaced the hobbling Owen with another striker in the imposing shape of Emile Heskey, rather than introduce an extra body to firm up midfield.
An incident-packed match continued to throw up surprises as Shearer was booked for a dive on the edge of the Romanian penalty area but much worse was to follow.
England looked to have done enough before Moldovan broke clear of Phil Neville down the Romanian right and the Manchester United defender's desperate attempt to clear the danger resulted in disaster.
Ganea was under immense pressure with time so nearly up, but he remained cool to send Martyn the wrong way and Romanian fans delerious.
Even then, England had one final chance to snatch back the advantage, but Beckham's stinging free kick was just missed by the head of Shearer and drifted tamely into the grateful arms of Stelea.
It proved Shearer's final contribution in an England shirt.
The captain had announced he was retiring from international football at the end of this tournament, but the manner of his England departure proved a bitter pill to swallow.
England: Martyn, G. Neville, Campbell, Keown, P. Neville, Beckham, Ince, Scholes (Southgate 81), Wise (Barmby 75), Owen (Heskey 67), Shearer.
Romania: Stelea, Petrescu, Filipescu, Galca (Rosu 68), Popescu (Belodedici 32), Mutu, Munteanu, Moldovan, Ilie (Ganea 74), Chivu, Contra.
Referee: U Meier (Switzerland)
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