Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Published at 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
England stutter in Sofia
False dawn: Alan Shearer raises England hopes with the opening goal
Bulgaria 1-1 England
England wasted the chance to take a significant stride towards the European Championships, as they stumbled to a draw against 10-man Bulgaria in Sofia.
And he will not have been too impressed by a scratchy performance against a side whose chances of reaching the finals were already over.
Everything looked healthy for the visitors following an impressive start - but within three minutes Bulgaria were level through Georgi Markov.
After their early moments of dominance - led by their three-pronged strikeforce - England's threat faded.
And even when Petrov was sent off for a second bookable offence they could find no way through.
There were frequent scares at the back for England's three-man defence on an uneven pitch, as Bulgaria's veteran striker Hristo Stoichkov produced a virtuoso display in his last international game.
The Leeds defender showed he has the temperament for international football with an assured debut, which included one stunning tackle from behind to deny Radostin Kishishev a near certain goal.
Woodgate was unlucky to be replaced in the second half, as Keegan sought to exploit the numerical advantage by switching to a 4-4-2 formation.
But even the reshuffle could not provide the breakthrough as Bulgaria condemned England to another draw.
England were clearly in determined mood at the start following the adject display in the 0-0 draw with Sweden last Saturday and they thought they had gone ahead in the 12th minute.
But the setback did not prove too costly, as two minutes later England were ahead - thanks to a Sunderland-Newcastle combination.
Sunderland's Michael Gray produced a deep cross from the left which caused chaos in the Bulgarian penalty area. Newcastle striker Shearer instantly latched onto a under-hit clearance, before swivelling and sending a low shot across the keeper into the far corner of the net.
It was the England captain's first goal in open play for his country for almost a year.
Bulgaria bounce back
But within three minutes Bulgaria were level.
One-time European Footballer of the Year Stoichkov sent a powerful cross to the far post, where Georgi Markov stole in to head the ball from close range past a leaden-footed David Seaman.
England's big chance of victory came with half-an-hour left when Martin Petrov was sent off for a second bookable offence, after clattering Sol Campbell in the air.
It was an inauspicious introduction to the international scene for Petrov, who had been on the pitch for just eight minutes.
Bulgaria were at least as effective as England going forward, Stoichkov going close following another of his trademark bullish runs and Seaman saving well from Milen Petkov.
Keegan can at least take consolation from the fact that victory in Poland in the autumn could still secure England's place in a qualification play-off.
Bulgaria: Ivankov, Kichichev, Zagorchich, Stoilov, Markov, Kirilov, S Petrov, Stoichkov, Yovov, M Petkov, Iliev. Subs: Gospodinov, Borimirov, Grouev, Stoianov, I Petkov, Batchev, M Petrov.
England: Seaman, Gray, Neville, Southgate, Campbell, Woodgate, Redknapp, Batty, Sheringham, Shearer, Fowler. Subs: Ferdinand, Walker, Sherwood, Parlour, Dyer, Cole, Heskey.
Referee: Mario Van Der Ende (Holland)