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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 November 2007, 23:07 GMT
England gifted lifeline by Israel
Elyaniv Barda
Barda scored the goal which put Israel ahead against Russia
England earned a Euro 2008 qualifying reprieve with their fate again in their own hands after Group E rivals Russia dramatically lost 2-1 in Israel.

England are now two points ahead of Russia and need a draw against Croatia in their final qualifier on Wednesday to secure a Euro 2008 place.

Israel took the lead through Elyaniv Barda before Diniyar Bilyaletdinov levelled as Russia started to dominate.

Russia hit the post late on before Omer Golan netted a winner for Israel.

The goal would have been the cue for celebrations from England boss Steve McClaren and his players who were relying on Israel to do them a favour.

McClaren's job would also have been in jeopardy if Russia had won but his belief that the campaign would go into the Croatia game proved correct.


There were plenty of England fans at the Ramat Gan stadium to cheer on Israel, while a strong Russian contingent were also evident to provide support for their team.

Russia started off nervously and went behind when Barda was slipped in on goal by a slide rule pass and he did the rest by dinking over on-rushing Russia keeper Vladimir Gabulov.

Israel had chance to add to their lead before Russia finally settled and grabbed an equaliser after the break when Bilyaletdinov fired after an Andrei Arshavin cross.

Russia grew in confidence and threat as the game progressed with England nerves jangling, especially when Sychez poked a shot against the the outside of the post.

But the visitors were caught out on the break when Golan raced through to score.

The result meant that group leaders Croatia, who lost 2-0 in Macedonia, have qualified for Euro 2008.

That result also gives England the prospect of overtaking Croatia to finish top of the group depending on next Wednesday's scoreline.

But, while England were celebrating, Scotland suffered heartbreak as they were eliminated after a 2-1 loss to Italy, whose win secured their qualification from Group B along with France.

Northern Ireland kept up their hopes of qualifying with a 2-1 win over Denmark in Group F and they now need to beat Spain, who earned a win against Sweden, to be in with a chance of booking a Euro 2008 spot.

But they also have to hope Sweden lose to Latvia to reach the finals.

Elsewhere, in Group A, Poland qualified for next year's tournament with a 2-0 victory over Belgium.

Finland came from a goal down to beat Azerbaijan 2-1 in Helsinki.

Finland dominated but went behind to a Makhmud Gurbonov goal before Mikael Forssell headed a 79th-minute equaliser and Shefki Kuqi nodded in a winner four minutes from time.

Finland are now three points adrift of Portugal, who beat Armenia, and the two countries meet next Wednesday.

They drew 1-1 in the corresponding fixture and a win for Finland would send them through at Portugal's expense.

Turkey leapfrogged Norway into second place in Group C after a 2-1 win in Oslo.

Erik Hagen put the hosts ahead from close range before Belezoglu Emre levelled with a long-range shot with Kahveci Nihat then putting the visitors ahead.

Turkey now lead Norway by a point and host Bosnia-Herzegovina, while Norway travel to Malta on Wednesday.

Holland also secured qualification after a 1-0 win over Luxembourg in Group G so Bulgaria's earlier 1-0 victory over Romania proved in vain.

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