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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK
Macedonia 0-1 England
Peter Crouch celebrates his goal for England
Peter Crouch celebrates his goal for England
Peter Crouch's rich vein of scoring form continued to give England a hard-fought victory in the Euro 2008 qualifier against Macedonia in Skopje.

Crouch scored seconds after half-time with a shot that bounced off the bar but was clearly over the line.

The Liverpool striker's 11th goal in 14 internationals made it three successive wins for England coach Steve McClaren.

Macedonia almost snatched a point late on, with Artemi Sakiri shooting wide and Ashley Cole clearing off the line.

But England survived and McClaren will have been delighted to come through a potentially hazardous encounter unscathed.

In a keenly-contested first 45 minutes, England's main source of danger came from Phil Neville's long throws into the box.

He found Crouch after 24 minutes, and his header was turned over by Macedonia keeper Jane Nikoloski - then Neville's next throw helped Jermain Defoe produce an over-head kick that was narrowly off target.

Defoe should have given England the lead six minutes before half-time when another Neville throw was flicked on by Crouch, but the Spurs striker volleyed over from close range.

England captain John Terry made a crucial block to stop Macedonia taking the lead after 41 minutes, when he got in the way of Velice Sumulikoski's goal-bound shot from the edge of the area.

606 VIEW

Frank Lampard had been quiet, but he almost broke the deadlock with seconds left in the first half when he forced a fine diving save from Nikoloski with a low drive from 20 yards.

But Crouch eased England's anxiety when he continued his golden goalscoring streak with another strike straight from the re-start.

He got on to the end of Lampard's cross, and even though his rising drive hit the bar, it clearly crossed the line as it hit the ground and the officials quickly awarded the goal.

Crouch's confidence rose visibly and he almost added a second after 58 minutes with an instant shot that was only inches wide.

England could not afford to relax, and Goran Pandev tested Paul Robinson from 25 yards, but the keeper was equal to the task.

Substitute Sakiri then gave England another anxious moment when he sent a shot flashing narrowly off target after 78 minutes with Robinson beaten.

And Macedonia came even closer to equalising with seven minutes left when Cole was forced to clear off the line after Sakiri's cross sparked a goalmouth scramble.

FYR Macedonia: Nikolovski, Noveski, Petrov, Sedloski, Igor Mitreski, Lazarevski, Jancevski (Tasevski 52), Sumulikoski, Naumoski (Sakiri 74), Maznov (Stojkov 56), Pandev.
Subs Not Used: Pacovski, Aleksander Mitreski, Vasovski, Grozdanovski.

Booked: Naumoski, Lazarevski, Pandev.

England: Robinson, Neville, Terry, Ferdinand, Cole, Gerrard, Hargreaves, Lampard (Carrick 84), Downing, Crouch (Johnson 87), Defoe (Lennon 76).
Subs Not Used: Foster, Bridge, Brown, Bent.

Booked: Crouch, Gerrard, Cole.

Goals: Crouch 46.

Att: 16,500

Ref: Bertrand Layec (France).

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