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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 October 2005, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
England qualify for the World Cup

I am going to have a glass of champagne now
Sven-Goran Eriksson speaking after Holland's win
England have qualified for the 2006 World Cup, with Holland's win over the Czech Republic confirming Sven-Goran Eriksson's team's ticket to Germany.

Frank Lampard's penalty gave England a 1-0 win over Austria at Old Trafford on Saturday, and that meant they only had to beat Poland on Wednesday to qualify.

But Holland's 2-0 victory in Prague means that England and Poland will both take part in next year's tournament.

"I'm delighted that we now know we will be taking part," said Eriksson.

Speaking to the FA's website, the England head coach added: "It has been a difficult start to the season for us but, together with our victory against Austria, this is the reward for all the hard work that has been done over the past year.

"Our win today showed the character and determination we have in this group of players. They were focused.

"The fans have played a huge part in every game. No other team enjoys such incredible support and our qualification is due also to them.

"I know that the whole nation will get behind the team at the World Cup. I hope we can deliver the kind of success that the fans deserve."

Austria 2-2 England
Poland 1-2 England
England 2-0 Wales
Azerbaijan 0-1 England
England 4-0 Northern Ireland
England 2-0 Azerbaijan
Wales 0-1 England
Northern Ireland 1-0 England
England 1-0 Austria

The Swede also admitted that his team had under-performed in the early part of 2005-2006.

"I know we have struggled this season but today I was very pleased. I know that in Germany, if we don't get too many injuries, we could do very well."

Wednesday's game at Old Trafford will decide if England or Poland win the group, but otherwise it is meaningless.

That will come as a relief to David Beckham, who is suspended for the Poland match after being sent off against Austria.

Beckham was delighted to see England's qualification guaranteed, saying: "The team are all overjoyed.

"We needed the result we got against Austria but we are through. Results have gone our way for once and we are very happy.

"It has been an up and down campaign but the manager has got us through to the World Cup finals again and he has got to take credit for that.

"There is always going to be criticism out there - and there always will be - but there are lots of strong characters in this team and we are very proud.

"There is still a lot of hard work to come but we are through to the actual finals and anything can happen from here. Of course I believe we can go the whole way next summer."

But Scotland's hopes of qualification are now over.

Their 1-0 defeat at home to Belarus on Saturday virtually eliminated Walter Smith's side, and their fate was confirmed when Norway beat Moldova 1-0 at home.

The mathematics of England and Poland's qualification are relatively complicated.

There are eight groups within the European section of World Cup qualifying, but some have seven teams and some have six.

Automatic spots at Germany go to the eight group winners, and the two runners-up with the best points tally.

However, to avoid an advantage going to countries in seven-team groups - where more games are played and thus more points available - the runners-up in those groups have their records against the bottom-placed team expunged.

That means the Czechs, who have 24 points, lose two victories and revert to 18 points.

So whoever comes second in Group Six out of Poland and England will definitely be one of the two best runners-up, and will be going to Germany for the World Cup.

Interview: England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson


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