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Saturday, October 10, 1998 Published at 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK

Sport: Football

Red-faced England held at home

Frustrated: England's striking partnership fail to hit the target

England 0-0 Bulgaria

Click here for the Scotland-Estonia match

Click here for Wales-Denmark match report

Toothless England's Euro 2000 hopes were dealt another huge blow as they were held to a goalless draw at home by Bulgaria.

Daniel Boettcher reports on England and Scotland's qualifying matches
The result leaves Glenn Hoddle's team with just one point from two games and a tough task to qualify for the finals in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The pressure on Hoddle is bound to grow after a dismal performance which ended in boos from a near-capacity crowd at Wembley.

Most experts had predicted a comfortable victory against a Bulgarian side humbled 3-0 at home by Poland in their opening qualifier.

[ image: Casualty of the card: Darren Anderton is booked]
Casualty of the card: Darren Anderton is booked
But the visitors proved to be highly stubborn opposition and, after a bright start, England simply failed to create enough clear-cut openings.

Hoddle's men came storming out of the blocks - but they wasted a string of early chances and the more the match went on the more ragged they became.

Final whistle match report (BBC Radio 5 Live)
And, without the creative input of David Beckham and the bite of Paul Ince, they failed to trouble Bulgaria throughout the second half as the visitors were grateful to settle for a hard-earned point.

Hoddle admitted the fans' reaction at the final whistle had been understandable: "There was justification for the boos, we let ourselves down today.

"We didn't play well and we are not happy in the dressing room. There are no excuses. A 0-0 draw is sometimes worse than a 1-1 draw.

"Spectators, some who are at Wembley for the first time, come to see goals. We don't want to play like that again."

Owen out of sorts

Michael Owen could have had a first half hat-trick as England dominated the opening 45 minutes.

[ image: Sol Campbell squanders England's best chance]
Sol Campbell squanders England's best chance
With just two minutes on the clock, Sol Campbell flicked on an Andy Hinchcliffe corner and Owen, diving in at the far post, just missed the point-blank header that would have given England the lead.

And seconds later Owen was in the centre of the action again. Liverpool team-mate Jamie Redknapp played a precise through-ball down the inside-right channel and Owen unleashed a diagonal drive from the edge of the area that fizzed over the bar.

Bulgaria's first effort on goal came after nine minutes, when Ilian Iliev caused problems in the England defence and laid the ball off to Hristo Stoichkov, whose shot was comfortably held by David Seaman.

Sol Campbell almost put England ahead
The best early chance fell to Campbell when he found himself unmarked in the area from Darren Anderton's cross, but headed well wide.

Anderton and Hinchcliffe were both creating openings down the flanks, but England were unable to capitalise on their utter domination of possession.

In the 17th minute Owen again shot wide after Paul Scholes had teed him up just inside the box.

Hinchliffe put a header straight at Bulgarian keeper Zdravko Zdravkov on the half-hour.

Owen has a good chance in front of goal but shoots just wide
But five minutes later the Sheffield Wednesday wing-back limped off the pitch with a groin strain and was replaced by Chelsea's Graeme Le Saux - the man he had kept out of the starting line-up.

As the first half drew to a close, England's failure to make the most of their superiority began to take its toll and their attacking took on a more frantic dimension.

Alan Shearer: "Well done to the opposition - they cancelled us out"
And after the break it began to get worse, as Bulgaria's patient play disrupted the home side's rhthym.

Alan Shearer, who had a poor game by his own high standards, came close after 54 minutes. Le Saux swung in a dangerous corner from the left but the England captain's diving header cleared the bar.

[ image: Booked: Jamie Redknapp]
Booked: Jamie Redknapp
England became more desperate in the second half.

Anderton, who was ineffectual after the interval, was replaced by David Batty, and Teddy Sheringham came on for Scholes.

But still there was little connecting midfield and attack and though Campbell fired over after 79 minutes, it was Bulgaria who looked most comfortable.

Disappointed - Gareth Southgate talks to BBC Radio 5 Live
Things got even worse nine minutes from time when Redknapp picked up a booking that rules him out of Wednesday's match in Luxembourg.


England: Seaman, G Neville, Hinchcliffe, Lee, Campbell, Southgate, Anderton, Redknapp, Shearer, Owen, Scholes. Subs: Keown, Martyn, Le Saux, Batty, Butt, Sheringham, Wright.

Bulgaria: Zdravkov, Kishishev, Zagorcich, Naidenov, Yordanov, Yankov, Kirilov, Stoichkov, Hristov, Petkov, Iliev. Subs: Ivankov, Batchev, Trendapilov, Gruev, V Ivanov, G Ivanov.

Referee: Laszlo Vagner (Hungary)

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