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Euro 2012 qualifiers: England 0-0 Montenegro

Wayne Rooney
Rooney was twice denied brilliantly by Montenegro keeper Mladen Bozovic

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

England were frustrated by Montenegro as their flawless start to the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign was ended in a goalless stalemate.

Fabio Capello's side dominated possession but, with Wayne Rooney a subdued figure, were lacking in ideas and invention to break down a team that also came to Wembley boasting a 100% record in qualification.

And after surviving the best England had to offer, it was Montenegro who came closest to snatching the victory when Milan Jovanovic - who had somehow escaped a clear handball offence in the penalty area moments earlier - rattled the crossbar from long range with only seven minutes left.

England had opportunities of their own, but Montenegro keeper Mladen Bozovic emerged as his side's hero with crucial saves from Rooney and Gareth Barry late on.

PHIL McNULTY'S BLOG

Capello gave a first England cap to Bolton's 33-year-old striker Kevin Davies, the country's oldest debutant for 60 years, and while he gave a lively cameo which also included a booking, there was no way through and Wembley vented its frustration at the end.

In contrast, the Montenegro celebrations reflected the importance of the result for the visitors, but it was a bitter disappointment for England after opening their assault on Euro 2012 with impressive victories against Bulgaria and Switzerland.

England had the occasional glimpse of goal before becoming mired in frustration faced by Montenegro's well-organised defence.

Steven Gerrard, back in the ranks after the England captaincy reverted to Rio Ferdinand, almost found Peter Crouch with an incisive pass, but the striker could not stretch enough to make the opportunity count.

With Adam Johnson lively on the left and Ashley Young seeing plenty of the ball on the opposite flank, England held the early ascendancy and Crouch should have done better than direct his header off target from Glen Johnson's inviting delivery.

Montenegro survived with relative ease until near the hour mark, when Gerrard put Rooney through, only for Montenegro keeper Bozovic to block at his feet, with Crouch unable to profit from the rebound.

It was Crouch's final contribution as he was replaced by Davies after 68 minutes, the veteran receiving a rousing reception from the Wembley crowd.

And he was involved as Rooney almost made the breakthrough four minutes later, his bustling presence causing confusion in the area. Rooney looked poised to score, but Bozovic made a crucial block and recovered well to block Gerrard's follow up.

England were angry when German referee Manuel Grafe rejected clear penalty appeals as Jovanovic appeared to handle in the area as he went to clear Ashley Cole's cross.

And Jovanovic almost added insult to England's injury with seven minutes left when he sent a dipping 30-yard drive on to the bar with keeper Joe Hart well beaten - the closest either side had come to a goal.

Ferdinand focuses on the positives for England

Barry almost snatched victory for England in the final minute as he pounced on Rooney's header 10 yards out, but once more the excellent Bozovic was equal to the task.

It was England's last chance, and Wembley was already emptying rapidly by the time the final whistle sounded on a mediocre evening for Capello's men.


England: Hart, Glen Johnson, Ferdinand, Lescott, Ashley Cole, Adam Johnson, Gerrard, Barry, Young (Wright-Phillips 74), Rooney, Crouch (Davies 69).
Subs Not Used: Foster, Warnock, Cahill, Wilshere, Downing.

Booked: Rooney, Young, Barry, Davies.

Montenegro: Mladen Bozovic, Basa, Jovanovic, Djudovic, Savic, Vukcevic, Zverotic, Boskovic (Beciraj 82), Novakovic (Kascelan 62), Pekovic, Djalovic (Delibasic 77).
Subs Not Used: Blazic, Batak, Tomasevic, Pejovic.

Booked: Djudovic, Savic, Basa, Kascelan, Vukcevic.

Att: 73,451

Ref: Manuel Grafe (Germany).



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see also
'Fighter' Capello remains upbeat
12 Oct 10 |  Football
BBC pundits on England
12 Oct 10 |  Football
Euro 2012 qualifiers as it happened
12 Oct 10 |  Football
Tuesday's football photos
12 Oct 10 |  Football
Switzerland 1-3 England
07 Sep 10 |  Football
England 4-0 Bulgaria
03 Sep 10 |  Football


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