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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Loss in Russia mystifies McClaren
Steve McClaren
McClaren is hoping Israel help out England
England coach Steve McClaren struggled to explain his side's 2-1 defeat by Russia, which leaves their Euro 2008 qualification in serious doubt.

"We had it in our grasp and ended up losing," said McClaren, who saw England take a first-half lead.

"I've been involved in games like this before and there are no answers as to how it is possible to end up on the losing side.

"It's a bad position. We have to rely on Russia stumbling against Israel."

England went ahead through a spectacular volley from striker Wayne Rooney but Roman Pavluchenko equalised for Russia from the penalty spot.

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Rooney's foul on Konstanin Zurianov led to the awarding of the spot-kick, a decision McClaren believes should never have been given.

"I've just seen the penalty again. It's an absolute disgrace," stated the former Middlesbrough boss.

"It's outside the box. The linesman didn't give it. It was the referee from quite some distance. Things like that turn games.

"We were comfortable. They were running out of ideas and that just turned the game.

Israel is a tough place to go - Russia have to go and win

England coach Steve McClaren

"It was a mad four minutes after that and unfortunately we conceded a second.

"But I can't fault the players for the gameplan, the way they have endeavoured to work, the commitment, the blocks we got in, the headers.

"We've ended up losing a game that really, after 70 minutes, I never thought we would lose."

The battle for qualification from Group E is now out of England's hands. If Russia beat Israel and Andorra then both they and Croatia will take the two places on offer for the Euro 2008 finals.

However, McClaren believes Russia may find it difficult to achieve victory in Israel.

He added: "We're not giving up. We will take it to the end.

"Israel is a tough place to go. They have to go and win. They have still got a lot of work to do."

For England not to make the finals will be unthinkable

England's Steven Gerrard

England's stand-in captain Steven Gerrard said it would be "unthinkable" for his side to miss out on Euro 2008.

"It is important that we do not give up," he added. "We are waiting on other people to do us favours.

"I can't believe it is out of our hands. For England not to make the finals will be unthinkable but we have got to take responsibility for that."

McClaren's opposite number, Guus Hiddink, was delighted with Russia's comeback.

"I had a feeling that if we could manage to keep pressure on their defence we could get the equaliser and could turn it around - because they might start to panic," said the Dutchman.

"I am very proud of these guys."



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