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Group E
England 2-3 Croatia
Andorra 0-1 Russia

Group F
Spain 1-0 Northern Ireland

Sweden 2-1 Latvia

Group C
Germany 0-0 Wales


To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Caroline Cheese

2234: Well I'm off to drown my sorrows now. It's been a gut-wrenching day all round - unless you're Welsh of course in which case three cheers for a battling (but kinda meaningless) goalless draw against the mighty Germans. But if you're English, I leave you with this happy thought: at least you're not Steve McClaren.

2231: "The only thing McClaren can do is leave, if it was unlucky or some kind of fluke result and we felt McClaren had made some progress, then there would be some calls for him to continue. But England have gone backwards. He needs to go now."
Hardfi05 on 606

2225: "We're disappointed. The nation will be disappointed. There's not much more you can say. If you don't win your games you don't qualify. We didn't perform tonight and that's the end of it."
England midfielder David Beckham

2222: So who actually has qualified for Euro 2008? Anyone still bothered? Here's the 16: Poland, Portugal, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Romania, Holland, Switzerland and Austria. The draw is on 2 December.

2219: So McClaren isn't stepping down. Although he accepts he has failed. But he doesn't want to talk about his future. Cheers for that Steve.

2216: "No I'm not stepping down. I take responsibility and I accept that. It's my job to get us qualified and I failed to do that. I don't want to discuss my future this evening."
England boss Steve McClaren

2214: "The biggest disappointment is for the fans, the country, and everybody supporting us. We felt ready but we failed to do it. It's a huge disappointment for everyone in the dressing room - not least myself - because we're not going to the Euros."
England boss Steve McClaren

2212: "Look on the bright side we won't be losing a quarter-final on penalties."
Andrew via text on 81111

2207: If you need another avenue for your grief, anger, tears, you can phone Alan Green on 606. The number's 0500 909 693. Or you can text him on 85058. Not sure even Greenie can help us now.

2205: "You can sometimes get away with one or two not playing to their maximum but I can't believe how many England players were so very poor tonight. Only Crouch played anything like we know he can, and it's just left every last supporter devastated."
BBC Sport pundit Alan Shearer

2204: "England got exactly what they deserved, which was absolutely nothing. They were out-thought, out-played and out-fought and this really is a real low point in English football history."
BBC Sport pundit Alan Hansen

2200: "Everybody, EVERYBODY except McClaren knew that 4-5-1 was suicidal. Look what Crouch can do when freed from the lone target man role. Anyone got Mourinho's number?"
Andy, Leeds, via text on 81111

2157: "England are out of Euro 2008 and a Croatia journalist sums it up best with the words: "You cannot fake quality." Croatia had the quality and England only a desperation that has marked out so much of their campaign. Steve McClaren walks off dejected as Wembley vents its fury at England's players. He must go as he has sadly proved not to be up to the job. England were handed the biggest, most unexpected lifeline by Israel and blew it - they do not deserve to be at Euro 2008 and boy is Wembley letting them know about it."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

2154: FULL-TIME Andorra 0-1 Russia
That's it then. Russia's win puts them ahead of England in the Group E table. Steve McClaren awaits the press mauling tomorrow. It's not going to be pretty.

2152: Croatia are celebrating in front of their fans like they've won the World Cup. David Beckham is the last England player to trudge off the pitch. Stranded on 99 caps? Looks like it.

2150: FULL-TIME England 2-3 Croatia
An incredible match ends. England will not be going to Euro 2008 unless Andorra can conjure up an equaliser against Russia in the next couple of minutes.

2148: Into added time at Wembley.

2147: RED CARD
Russia are down to 10 men with six minutes remaining against Andorra. Andrei Arshavin is the man to go.

2144: "Without doubt, the defining image of McClaren's short reign. With their backs against the wall, England need blood, sweat and tears, and yet McClaren stood there helpless, umbrella aloft, not even prepared to get his hair wet! What would Churchill say?"
Watson, Aberdeen, via text on 81111

2142: Frank Lampard lifts the ball over for Darren Bent. The Tottenham striker outmuscles the defender but his shot is inches too high.

2141: England will be pleased to see the back of Ivica Olic. He is replaced by Ivan Rakitic.

2140: "England fans are holding their heads in despair all around - Petric given too much time and space and in reality Croatia have created the better chances and threatened a third. Can England rise once more to save their Euro 2008 ambitions? Poor Wayne Bridge has been fried by Croatia tonight, but he has not been alone in his suffering!"
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

2139: "I want to cry."
Anon via text on 81111

2137: On comes Darren Bent for Joe Cole. Desperate times for England. A little over 10 minutes left.

2134: GOAL England 2-3 Croatia
Oh. Substitute Mladen Petric hammers a stunning 25-yard left-foot shot across Scott Carson and into the bottom corner. Great strike and a hammer-blow for England.

2132: "Crouch is easily the man of the match. That goal was a beaut, and constantly flicking the ball on, and winning it in the air. He's really played with pride and heart. Pity the manager hasn't got a notion of tactics."
gunner-rossmcd on 606

2130: "England have somehow turned the game on its head. Beckham's perfect cross and Crouch's outstanding finish and suddenly Switzerland and Austria come into view again. McClaren has ditched the umbrella and is out of the dug-out. Has there ever been a more topsy-turvy qualification campaign than this?"
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

2128: FULL-TIME Germany 0-0 Wales
A great result for Wales, who finish an otherwise disappointing campaign on a high. They finish fifth in Group D. Germany are second behind the Czech Republic.

2126: Croatia make their first change with Mladen Petric replacing Arsenal striker Eduardo.

Reddevil1288 on 606
quiteManners on 606

2122: GOAL England 2-2 Croatia
The script was written wasn't it? David Beckham produces the cross of the night so far and Peter Crouch chests the ball down brilliantly before lashing it into the corner. Arise Sir David.

2120: Wayne Bridge, who is having a nightmare by the way, gives the ball to Ivica Olic on the edge of the box but Scott Carson saves his low shot.

2118: "Frank Lampard has been a central hate figure for the Wembley crowd - but they cheer him now as he shows nerve and character to score from the spot. Suddenly it is game on and England have hope of getting something from the wreckage if their first half display. As I said, not over just yet. Croatia now face the test of nerve - can they cope as suddenly Wembley is alive. England even get the luck as Wayne Bridge hits his own bar."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

2115: Oh my word. Wayne Bridge's attempted clearance as Ivica Olic closes in hits the top of the bar and from the corner Olic heads straight at Scott Carson from a couple of yards out. I don't think my heart can take it.

2113: GOAL England 1-2 Croatia
Josip Simunic tugs back Jermain Defoe and the Swedish linesman flags. Say what you like about Frank Lampard's performance so far but he keeps a very cool head to slot in the kick. England have (yet another) lifeline.

2112: Penalty to England!

2111: "Think I got a glimpse of Lampard, I could have been wrong."
quiteManners on 606

2107: Peter Crouch wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Dead centre. David Beckham's first effort of the evening is deflected behind for a corner which comes to nothing. Ever so slightly better from England I suppose.

2105: Huge cheers around Wembley as Scott Carson... picks up the ball.

2103: The second half is under way at Wembley. Steve McClaren leaves it until after the kick-off to emerge from the tunnel. Wonder why?

2101: Here come the troops. Jermain Defoe and a fella called David Beckham are coming on in the second half. Gareth Barry and Shaun Wright-Phillips come off and we're back to 4-4-2. Frank Lampard - who scored 4.14 in the first-half on Player Rater - stays on.

2059: "You stand and fall by your decisions and McClaren's got it wrong in the first-half. The keeper, the formation - plain wrong. It's probably the worst 45 minutes you'll ever see from England right across the board, and some drastic changes have to be made."
BBC Sport pundit Alan Hansen

2058: Turkey have qualified for Euro 2008 thanks to a 1-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Norway are out.

2057: Germany captain Miroslav Klose sends a header just wide moments after Wales suffer two other nervous moments in their own penalty area.

2057: "Great overall effort from Northern Ireland. What about a home nations tournament next summer now that England are on they're on their way out?"
Via text on 81111

2054: Let's not forget that Cameroon's Under-17 side once came back from 5-0 down in a World Championship group match against Portugal. And they didn't start their recovery until the 70th minute. So England have got plenty of time. Incidentally, Scott Carson is now down to 2.36 in BBC Sport's interactive player rater.

2050: "The most important half-time talk of Steve McClaren's career. His job depends on it after a desperate 45 minutes. England ended the half looking bedraggled and horribly predictable. McClaren must introduce more pace into attack - namely Jermain Defoe. The lifeline had been thrown to England by Israel, but they have failed to grasp it embarrassingly and jeers ring around Wembley. McClaren is 45 minutes from the sack."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

2048: FULL-TIME Spain 1-0 Northern Ireland
And it's all over for Northern Ireland. They've got to be pleased with their campaign though which went right down to the wire and included wins over Spain, Sweden and Denmark.

2047: HALF-TIME England 0-2 Croatia
England trudge off to the sound of boos from the Wembley crowd. A poorer 45 minutes from an England side I cannot remember.

2041: From where I'm sitting, I see grown men with their hands in front of their eyes. Scott Carson fumbles Luka Modric's shot but somehow gets away with it. It's a horror show. Steve McClaren is writing notes - I'll leave you to guess what he might be writing.

2040: GOAL Andorra 0-1 Russia
We knew it couldn't last. Dmitri Sychev puts Russia ahead in the 39th minute and as it stands, England are out.

2039: Meanwhile, in tonight's only home nations good news story, Wales get under way against Germany in the second half.

2038: Scott Carson swings his boot at a clearance and delivers the ball straight back to the opposition. Someone put him out of his misery.

2037: "Am following this in Argentina. The locals are laughing at England."
Guy via text on 81111

2034: You lot are harsh. But fair. Scott Carson has 2.71 on the BBC website's interactive Player Rater. That's out of 10 by the way.

2031: "Sol Campbell does a bit of arm-waving to rally the troops, but the Wembley crowd is starting to turn with the first few jeers heard. England look vulnerable, particularly Wayne Bridge, and McClaren's five-man midfield looks lost with Croatia more comfortable in possession. It is difficult to over-estimate what a debilitating effect poor Carson's error has had on the whole evening so far."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

2029: As it stands England are going through to Euro 2008 - because Andorra are holding Russia. That won't last though.

2025: HALF-TIME Germany 0-0 Wales
Some cheer for the home nations... goalless at half-time after a hugely impressive first-half display by Wales.

2023: Peter Crouch rises to head on a free-kick... to no one. Good this 4-3-3 isn't it?

2021: "Wembley is stunned and even an umbrella can't hide the look of shock on Steve McClaren's face. England had actually responded well to Carson's calamity, but already the stadium is shrouded in an air of desperation. It's a long way to Austria and Switzerland from here - but I sense this isn't finished just yet."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

2017: "That's it then! Home for me. Summer holiday planning tonight. P45 for McClown. Nice!"
mickyboy223 on 606

2014: GOAL Sweden 2-1 Latvia
Kim Kallstrom sends a low shot skidding in from the edge of the area to ease Sweden's nerves and - with Spain leading against Northern Ireland - almost certainly secure their place at Euro 2008.

2014: GOAL England 0-2 Croatia
I don't want to watch any more. Eduardo cuts in from the right and plays in Ivica Olic, who is kept onside by Wayne Bridge and waltzes around Scott Carson before tapping into the empty net. Comical defending by England. Olic was nowhere near offside.

2013: "That was more Frank Carson than Scott."
BBC Sport analyst Mark Lawrenson

2009: GOAL Spain 1-0 Northern Ireland
Xavi scores from 25 yards but his shot takes a huge deflection off Stephen Craigan to deceive a wrong-footed Maik Taylor.

2008: GOAL England 0-1 Croatia
Oh no. Scott Carson's first touch in competitive international football is to help Niko Kranjcar's speculative 35-yard shot into the net. An awful, awful error from the young keeper.

2005: England's first effort on goal is a Joe Cole header from Steven Gerrard's right-wing cross. Easily collected by Croatia keeper Stipe Pletikosa.

2001: Northern Ireland get the second half under way in Gran Canaria. Spain bring on speedy winger Joaquin.

2001: Away we go at Wembley. Steve McClaren is under an umbrella.

1957: Ian Wright berates Alan Hansen for taking a trip to "negative town" when the Scot suggests not everything will go England's way against a "quality" Croatia side, but all three BBC pundits - Wright, Hansen and Shearer - are predicting a home victory. "Comfortably," adds Hansen.

1955: No sign of Gordon Brown at Wembley but Prince William is there. Croatia's players have hands on hearts as they sing their national anthem. It's still raining.

1953: "I've gone for Wright-Phillips over Beckham because not only is he familiar from club level with a 4-3-3 formation, but also because he has been one of our form men of late. But the conditions will be energy-sapping so our bench is very, very important. That includes David Beckham, but the whole squad has to be ready if called upon."
England boss Steve McClaren

1951: Turkey lead Bosnia 1-0 at half-time. As it stands, that means they will go through from Group C, edging out Norway.

1950: Wales enjoy a huge slice of luck as Germany come within inches of opening the scoring. Tim Borowski's shot is tipped onto the post by keeper Wayne Hennessey, the ball then rebounds and hits the diving Hennessey in the back but the Wolves stopper claws it back before it crosses the goalline.

1947: HALF-TIME Sweden 1-1 Latvia
Juris Laizans' equaliser for Latvia keeps Northern Ireland in the hunt for Euro 2008. They need to beat Spain and Latvia to beat Sweden to qualify.

1946: Wales make a composed start, keeping possession well, but it's the Germans who have the first shot at goal as Lukas Podolski fires well over from outside the box.

1945: HALF-TIME Spain 0-0 Northern Ireland
David Silva dances his way into the penalty area and hits a low shot through a crowd of players. Maik Taylor has it covered though and that's half-time.

1944: "Events have dictated my decision. Things have happened in previous games and Carson has been in fine form, so we just feel it's the right decision. He's not on the bench because we wanted to take him out of the heat completely, but Robbo's form is coming back and he has a future for England, no question."
England boss Steve McClaren

1942: "The chap who designed Wembley gave a talk in Aberdeen. I asked why it didn't have a roof. He said 'who needs a roof? When was the FA Cup final last abandoned due to waterlogging?' Hope he's watching the game tonight."
Yam yam jock, Aberdeen, via text on 81111

1937: "My wife is in bits. We're three rows away from Becks and he waved back at her."
Simon in Wembley via text on 81111

1936: Crikey, they took their time in Frankfurt. So much for German efficiency (my colleague said that but I decided to nick it). They are under way at last.

1933: Approximately a million of you have texted in to ask why the Wembley roof isn't on. Well, that's because it's only partially retractable ie only the seats get covered, not the pitch. Bet they're regretting that now...

1931: "'You are at one of the world's greatest stadiums' bellows the Wembley announcer - great stadium, shame about the pitch. The glowing sentiments may not be shared by many rain-soaked fans, with those of an English persuasion giving keeper Scott Carson a good reception as he starts his warm-up. As he looks dubiously at the penalty areas, he may just be thinking these are nightmare conditions for any keeper."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

1930: The Wales and Germany teams are only just out on the pitch in Frankfurt so we'll have a mini-delay there.

1927: GOAL Sweden 1-1 Latvia
There's hope yet. Juris Laizans's first-time shot takes a big deflection before hitting the back of the net to put Northern Ireland back in the qualifying picture.

1922: "On the train coming in from Wycombe - M4 and M40 both packed solid all evening so I'll be amazed if we get started on time!"
Tim, Holyport, via text on 81111

1920: "Come on England. Would it not be embarrassing to have built a huge fantastic stadium and have it waterlogged on match day? Isn't that what the roof is for?"
smashingmeiterules on 606

1917: The ball falls to David Healy about 25 yards out but his left-foot volley flies over. That's the record-breaking striker's first effort of the night.

1915: Israel's 1-0 win over Macedonia puts them level on points with England in Group E. Of course, they stay behind England because of the head-to-head record.

1912: It's all Spain in, er, Spain. They may be fielding a weakened team but there's no sign that they're not bang up for this game. David Silva had a decent penalty shout turned down after being bundled over by Stephen Craigan.

1911: "Looking up close at the pitch and there is a distinct danger, if it continues to rain, that this won't be playable tonight. Worst case scenario, we could be looking at an abandonment."
Former England boss Graham Taylor on BBC 5 Live

1909: "There are puddles developing all over the Wembley pitch and stewards are out there with forks desperately trying to clear the water."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

1902: GOAL Sweden 1-0 Latvia
And within 35 seconds, Northern Ireland's hopes take a potentially catastrophic blow. Zlatan Ibrahimovic crosses for Marcus Allback to tap in at the near post.

1901: Group F's other crucial game between Sweden and Latvia kicks off.

1900: Northern Ireland, who are rather quaintly being called North Ireland by local television in Gran Canaria, are under way against Spain.

1855: Here come the teams in Gran Canaria. Spain, who have already qualified, have made five changes from the team that beat Sweden.

1853: "England's players have arrived at Wembley looking relaxed - led by the smiling Steve McClaren. Croatia coach Slaven Bilic was paying very close attention to the pitch as he walked on it a few moments ago. And to add to his worries, Wembley has now been hit by a heavy downpour."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

1851: "I'm bored of moaning about the team now. I just want to win so i can book my flights to Austria."
UnitedChumsie on 606

It's as expected folks.
England team to play Croatia: Carson, Richards, Bridge, Gerrard, Lescott, Campbell, Barry, Lampard, Crouch, Wright-Phillips, J Cole. Subs: A Cole, James, Brown, Hargreaves, Defoe, Beckham, Bent.

1840: "Earnshaw up front on his own? May as well not play a striker! Useless little man."
Gavyn in Wales via text on 81111

1837: Belarus are now 2-0 up against Holland. Looks like the Dutch don't fancy being in pot one for the Euro 2008 draw on 2 December.

1834: "Caroline, 'sir' is a common word for cheese in Slavic languages - in Russian it is just that "sir" (pronounced "siir"; of course, "i" is not like English [ai] but very hard [i]). In Russian it looks so - ."
LatvianAllBlacksFan on 606

(Everyone got that?!)

David Edwards of Luton makes his first start for Wales against Germany after coming on to make his debut on Saturday. Carl Fletcher shakes off a foot injury to start. Freddy Eastwood is out with a knee injury so Rob Earnshaw plays up front on his own
Wales team to face Germany: Hennessey, Ricketts, Gabbidon, Collins, Nyatanga, Gunter, Fletcher, Edwards, Ledley, Simon Davies, Earnshaw

1825: "'You do spell cheese as 'sir' in Croatia by the way. England 1-0 Crouchy!"
Mark via text on 81111

1823: As if it were possible, BBC Sport's Noel Sliney has gone up in my estimations. He's emailed a coefficient update. Here we go: "Today's early wins for Romania and the Czechs mean England must BEAT Croatia to finish in pot two for the finals draw. It's still possible they could finish in pot four (if England draw, Germany don't lose and Portugal, Sweden and Poland all win)"

1818: "Croatia's players are out on the Wembley pitch warming up. They were greeted by a noisy section of supporters bearing the banner 'Croatia: You'll never walk alone.'"
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley

1812: Blimey. Vitaliy Bulyga puts Belarus ahead against Holland and if that stays the same it will cost the Dutch a top seeding for the Euro 2008 draw. Although some would say it's not such a bad thing because if you're seeded top, you definitely don't get Austria, Switzerland or Greece in your group. You don't think... nah, surely not.

1806: So as expected Nigel Worthington sticks with Warren Feeney up front with superhero David Healy ahead of Kyle Lafferty. Chris Baird and Ivan Sproule replace the suspended Jonny Evans and Keith Gillespie.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, McAuley, Hughes, Craigan, Baird, Brunt, Davis, Clingan, Sproule, Healy, Feeney

1803: Adrian Chiles also revealed that the Croat word for cheese is "sir". I'm sure that's not how you spell it though.

1800: Anyone off to Wembley? Anyone there yet? Anyone in the Estadio de Gran Canaria?? Only an hour to go until Spain and Northern Ireland kick off...

1757: "It will give me no pleasure either way. I can't help rooting for the Croatians. They're a small country mixing it with the best. But tonight it's got to be England because they need a result to qualify. But I'll be extremely happy with a draw."
BBC Sport's half-English, half-Croatian presenter Adrian Chiles on Radio Four's PM programme

1753: "If your goldfish is on its side don't flush it. Chances are it's suffering from swim bladder disorder from being overfed."
Bhav via text on 8111

1751: Israel lead Macedonia by a Elyaniv Barda goal at half-time. Barda scored the first against Russia on Saturday and set up the second. A man in form then.

1747: "I was asked when walking through town: how would I dispose of a goldfish? I answered 'down the toilet'. I'm in the majority apparently."
Lexy via text on 81111 (That's winning 'best text of the day' so far)

1742: "Typically negative English response (see 1724). I bet you'll be following them as if nothing's changed next summer. We need to get behind them for once! OK so McClaren might not be the right man but many would have bottled playing Carson, Barry and Wright-Phillips tonight! Come on the boys lets silence the critics and go on to win it!"
Adam, Northampton, via text on 81111

1736: "They might need only need to draw but there is a lot of pressure on England to prove that they actually belong in the Euros. We don't think we get the credit we deserve for the quality in our team and we're very determined to show how good we are, especially at Wembley."
Portsmouth and Croatia midfielder Niko Kranjcar

1732: Romania are absolutely bossing the rhyming derby against Albania. They have a 6-1 lead and victory means they top Group G ahead of Holland.

1729: Just been checking in with Newsround to get their view. They always make things seem a lot better don't they? Apparently the England manager and the players are confident.

1724: "Am I the only Englishman who wants Croatia to win tonight? To stop qualification papering over the cracks of the McClaren era!"
Via text on 81111 (No you're not. In fact I'd say it's 50-50)

1717: I have big news for Northern Ireland fans watching BBC Interactive on satellite or cable later. You will be able to flick between the game in Spain and the crucial encounter between Sweden and Latvia. The full choice will be: England v Croatia, Spain v N Ireland, Germany v Wales, Sweden v Latvia. If you're on Freeview, you'll get all those games minus Sweden v Latvia.

1711: Our reporter tells me that the fans are already gathering in their numbers at Wembley. And Rowland Rivron is also there.

1705: It's hard to know who's more pessimistic about their chances tonight: the Welsh fans or the English fans. Here's Dave in Cardiff: "I fancy Germany to put at least six past us tonight!"

1659: So Lestyn has texted in to complain about the lack of Wales chat. There's not been much about to be honest. But here's chrisp2412 on 606: "COME ON WALES!!!!!!! Lets not put six in defence, let's take the game to the Germans and have a go!!"

1653: England hero Omer Golan only makes the bench for Israel's game against Macedonia. What a comedown.

1651: "Scott Carson debut for Leeds came when he replaced Paul Robinson who got sent off against Boro. The Boro manager? Steve McClaren! A coincidence? I think not."
redandblackT on 606

1650: "If England win I'm going to marry you. Whether or not you want to."
Henry via text on 81111 (I'm a lot scared now)

1643: "Get Rob Green called up... He is the safest pair of hands in England, apart from big Wazza who plays for us on a Saturday in the Redhill and District"
ji mjam, london, via text on 81111

1637: Even the great Peter Shilton is joining in our goalkeeper debate. He reckons it's a "risk" to pick Carson for his competitive debut in such a big match. I'm starting to feel a bit scared now.

1631: "Great managers make big decisions and get it right. Dropping Paul Robinson is a BIG decision and all I can say is let's hope Steve McClaren is a great manager."
sarmad19 on 606

1624: "Ostapenko has just put Kazakhstan ahead. I for one am delirious."
Adam Brandon, London, via text on 81111

1620: No goals in any of the Euro 2008 qualifiers so far. Hope that's not a taste of things to come. A Kazakhstan player called Zhalmagambetov (usual spelling) has been booked.

1615: And talking of the old goalkeeper debate. BBC Sport's Jonathan Stevenson reckons McClaren is wrong to drop Robinson at all. Is he insane?

1612: I would have put David James in goal, not Scott Carson. Am I insane?

1608: "The last England game I missed, home or away, was Northern Ireland in 2005. Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing there, like in Vienna on Friday night, but not today. This is a proper big one!"
Stevo via text on 81111

1559: The rhyming derby between Romania v Albania kicks off in one minute. Romania can pip Holland to the top of Group G providing Holland's result in Belarus isn't better. Does that make sense?

1558: "Was at the game against Denmark on Saturday n the boys were fantastic in atrocious conditions. I'm doing a rain dance tonight for Gran Canaria."
ACD, Belfast, via text on 81111

1549: Never mind Healy, I'm nominating BBC Sport's Noel Sliney for a knighthood. He's only gone and sent me the co-efficient rankings. Basically, Holland are in pot one with Switzerland, Austria and Greece. As it stands, England would be in pot three and Northern Ireland in four.

1545: "Sports Personality? Sir David Healy should be made King. A national holiday in his honour at the very least!"
Jonny from Ballymena, via text on 81111

1535: Not much Northern Ireland chat so far... What about David Healy for Sports Personality of the Year? Scoring 13 goals in one qualifying campaign. That, folks, is phenomenal. Just for comparison, England's top scorers are Michael Owen and Peter Crouch, who have four. Yes, four.

1530: "In response to Rob from London (see 1514), my missus has no problem with me eating a banana, but can't take me seriously while eating a hot dog."
Jon, London, via text on 81111

1525: I knew someone on 606 would come through for me. Love you guys. Here's JCsRedArmy to put us in the Euro 2008 draw seedings picture: "Cheese. Austria and Switzerland, being the hosts are seeded, as are Greece being the holders. That only leaves one, and I would think it is either Italy or France going on recent Euro and World Cup performances. You then have the ones not included above, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and the Czech Republic above England in the rankings, so it looks like Engerland will be in pot three at the best, and with the wrong draw, an early ticket home."

1518: Word reaches me (from the BBC weather's website) that there will be rain over Wembley at 2100 GMT. If there is, Peter Crouch will be the first to tell us.

1514: "Can you ever look serious whilst eating a banana?"
Rob, London, via text on 81111

1508: I've spent the last hour discussing coefficients with my colleagues. I'm none the wiser about who'll be seeded for the Euro 2008 draw on 2 December - but we're working on it. I did one of those IQ tests on Facebook the other day. If it's accurate, it's a ruddy miracle I made it through school.

1501: Ben Dirs is now juggling imaginary breasts and shouting "MELONS" at me. What's all that about? Anyway, round of applause for Dirsy, who's off to be a proper journalist for once.

By Ben Dirs

1459: Caroline Cheese is flexing her fingers and will be with you in just a second. God speed England and God speed Northern Ireland. Bye!

"I think, secretly, everyone wants their team to lose so they can sack the manager. I hope that's not the case, but it wouldn't surprise me." ASF on 606

1455: Right, I'm off in a few minutes. Lovely talking to you and thanks for the banter. My prediction for the evening - 2-1 Croatia, courtesy of some late nause-up by Sol Campbell. Oh, go on then, England to win 1-0...

"In Gran Canaria and it's unbelievable over here. Relaxing by the beach chanting and singing. The locals dont seem to like it but no one cares. The boys will do it tonight!" Nick, Belfast, via text

"Talking about girlfriends and football, I've been with mine for nearly a year now and she's seemingly taken to the football banter like a duck to water. Is there any test to prove if she's genuine, as im worried when we hit the 'comfort zone' of the relationship she'll become an anti-football dragon." Tim, Cheltenham, via text

1447: Anyone see former Scotland boss Craig Brown on Inside Sport the other night? He was positively bristling at the idea England would definitely qualify. I'll make him right. Why should they definitely qualify? And we wonder why we annoy the Celts. The big match of the day kicks off in 13 minutes - Armenia v Kazakhstan in Yerevan. Actually, not sure it is in Yerevan, but that's the capital, so it must be.

1442: I just remembered a dream I had last night, which was a bit odd. I was playing for England and McClaren had recalled Gazza, Trevor Cherry and Sir Bobby Moore. It was one of those semi-real dreams, because someone had to point out to McClaren in the changing room that Sir Bobby passed away about 10 years ago. Why do I never dream about scoring winners in World Cup finals and stuff?

"Crispy Findus Pancakes? (see below) Surely you mean Findus Crispy Pancakes? Call yourself a journalist?" Big Dave, Londres, via text

1435: I'll be handing over to the redoubtable Caroline Cheese in 25 minutes and not before time - if ever a live Euro 2008 qualifying commentary needed a woman's touch, this is it. I can almost smell the deep heat as I write. Talking of deep heat, my brother once pulled a groin and applied some Fiery Jack to the affected region. You can guess what happened next. Me and my other brother laughed and laughed and laughed. I think he pulled it playing football, so there is a link.

1421: Here's some qualification permutations for you. I've showed them to you once, but here they are again. That all right? News in that Steve Bruce's move to Wigan has been put on hold, I'll keep you posted. Also, Dallaglio and Catt, aka Brutus and Cassius, will not be censured for putting the boot into England coach Brian Ashton after the World Cup. Nothing to do with football, just thought I'd tell you.

1414: Does anyone here bother watching major tournaments if their team doesn't qualify? With me, it depends largely on who I'm seeing at the time. If she's still charming me, I'll gladly sack it off, if the relationship is on the turn, I suddenly become the biggest football fan in the world, bar Gordon Brown. I've got a mate who pretended he was half Italian one year just so he could swerve his girlfriend for the duration of the 1994 World Cup. Cheeky, very cheeky.

"Crouch, Carson, Wright-Phillips, Lampard, Barry...And these are the players England think will win them a major tournament? None of these players would be even make it onto the Azzurri bench - you keep accepting second rate." GB on 606

"Re funny quotes. Gordon Strachan when asked if he was English which formation he would play? 'If I were English I'd top myself'" Paul, Manchester, via text

1404: Beginning to question the wisdom of kicking-off our build-up at 8am, I feel ruddy awful. That said, whenever I feel low, I always clasp my hands together and praise the Big Man that I'm not a little bloke I know who went bald at the age of 18. I can add Alistair Darling to my list now, bet he feels a bit silly today. Saying that, I've got the feeling his reign as the most stupid man in England might be over at about 9.50 tonight...

1359: News hot off the wires that Paul "Robbo" Robinson will not even be on the bench tonight, meaning David "Calamity" James is England's back-up keeper. All in all, fantastic news.

"I'd take our brave boys from Birmingham, Leicester, Fulham, Motherwell, Bristol City, Notts Forest, West Brom and Swansea, who play with pride for the shirt and the supporters rather than the alooof don't cares of the England XI, who are probably most concerned with losing out on tie-in sponsorship deals and telling their other halves that they might not be getting any blanket media exposure to further their own worthless 'careers' this summer, any day. C'mon the Greeen and White Army, onwards and upwards!" Peter on 606

1349: More on Northern Ireland. I see Warren Feeney is set to keep his place ahead of Kyle Lafferty. That's got to be fair, hasn't it? Good goal he scored against Denmark. Slaven Bilic keeps on banging on and on and on and on about the state of the Wembley pitch. Wish they'd let me watch something other than News 24...

1344: Here's England striker Peter Crouch on BBC Radio 5 Live: "Certainly none of us are thinking about Croatia winning. We have all got the belief that we will get the right result. The mood in the camp is extremely positive - all the lads are relaxed and all in good spirits ahead of the game." Good old Crouchy, I'd like to have him the trenches with me. Hang on a minute...

1337: I've got to be honest with you, I think old Gums McClaren has made the right decision dropping Becks. Who was his last but one match against? Hollywood United FC? He was being man-marked by Anthony LaPaglia, the bloke out of So I Married An Axe Murderer. It beggars belief...Also, do you know what I read the other day? Apparently, up until not that long ago, whenever a woman MP got up to speak in the Houses of Parliament, some of the blokes would juggle imaginary breasts and shout "MELONS!" What's that all about?

1334: What is it about Peter Crouch? I really don't want to like him, but I think he might be my favourite bloke in the England team. In that respect, he's a bit like Crispy Findus Pancakes.

"The best sportsman's quote? When asked what his favourite cheese is, Stevie Gerrard replied: 'Erm, I dunno... melted cheese' - priceless!" Mark the Villain, London, via text

"Hoards of Croatian fans outsinging England fans on Carnaby Street - most England fans aren't even bothered. A sign of things to come?" Dave, Soho, via text

"It's a bit rich of Bilic to criticise the Wembley pitch after what happened to poor Paul Robinson in the opposing fixture!" Mark, Manchester, via text

1321: I just had truffle linguine for lunch - what did you mugs have? I'm going to bring this place down. Here's England manager Steve McClaren on BBC Radio 5 Live: "Going into every game, we always talk about performance because, if you think about outcome, you are reaching the finishing post too soon and you can trip up or choke. We've got to make sure we put a performance in against Croatia and get the crowd behind us. It is so important that we do that for 95 minutes. Ultimately football is results orientated and we have to perform to get that result." 95 minutes? Do you reckon he's got a punt on?

1257: Bit of archive knocking about on the website. We've got Gerry Armstrong's corker against Spain at the 1982 World Cup and an audio feature on England's qualification battle.

If you want to hear all about a mediocre England side stumbling past various footballing lightweights, take a look, it's brilliant. I'm off for a bit of lunch, see you in 10...

"Re. Sam Fox (see below). I got all excited a few years ago when the newly-bought flat upstairs started getting mail addressed to a Miss S Fox. Sadly, it turned out to be a Sandra Fox." Paul, Romford, in the TMS inbox

1253: A bit of consternation among you as to why Robert Green isn't in England's squad. Every West Ham fan I know reckons he's the best keeper in the country. Saying that, in the words of that lovely old chant, they're also adamant that East London is wonderful, so they may well be wrong.

"Re Geoff's comment (1143), you have to go all the way back to the 1-0 victory over Argentina at the 2002 World Cup to find England's last competitive victory over a higher-ranked team - it's been a while! Mon the Norn Iron!" George, Belfast, in the TMS inbox

"Re: greatest sporting quote, Peter Crouch on a popular Saturday morning footy show. Q: 'What would you be if you weren't a footballer?' Crouch: 'A virgin'. Funny cos it's true." Jon via text

1240: Good old Lawro has given his predictions for tonight's qaulifiers - he reckons England will get through via a 1-0 win over Croatia. He also thinks Northern Ireland will nab a draw in Las Palmas, meaning they wouldn't make it. Some rousing quotes just in from England and Reading full-back Nicky Shorey:

"I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start, the game's afoot, Follow your spirit, and upon this charge, Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George'." By God he's good.

1227: Paul Parker is a man who speaks sense. Asked on BBC One's Inside Sport why England's 'Golden Generation' continually underachieve, he looked a bit peeved and pointed out they're not a 'Golden Generation', and they're not even as good as England's Euro 96 squad. Since when did a squad containing Gareth Barry, Wes Brown, Stewart Downing and Phil Neville constitute a 'Golden Generation'?

"Seaman or flowers was a much more fun debate than Robinson or Carson." Anon via text

1216: I see the Poles are already through from Group A, so the ambience in Krakow, where I'm off for a stag do on Friday, should be buzzing. If you ever pay Poland's second city a visit, I strongly recommend a lovely little bistro called Roosters. News from Group D - Germany, who play Wales at home, must better the Czech Republic's result to top the group. The Czechs have got Cyprus away.

"There is only one present you can give after a two-month relationship - a mini break for two for February. Girls love that kind of thing, and it gives you a bit of time to cancel if things don't go well during December and January." Ed, Glos, via text

1205: Prime Minister's Questions on the box - Browny's getting slaughtered again. Plenty of good Northern Ireland stuff on the website. Take a look at Ian Dennis' piece - he's been with the camp in Las Palmas. I was in Belfast recently and they've painted over one of the big paramilitary murals with one of David Healy scoring against England a couple of years ago. Tremendous stuff, and a lot better than a bunch of menacing looking blokes in balaclavas brandishing Kalashnikovs.

"'Roy of the Rovers reads David Healy comics' - John O'Neill on commentary Saturday night. Classic! Come on Northern Ireland." Wilko, Belfast, via text

"I fancy an upset in Gran Canaria - it's nearly a neutral venue! And with 4000 fans there, we've a good backing! Never been more proud of the team." Matt, Belfast, via text

1158: I was having a chat the other day with a football journalist in our office. I was basically saying England have been a mediocre football nation for the last 30 years and the central plank of his defence was the fact that they "reached the semi-finals of Italia 90, so they can't be that bad". That's what we're dealing with folks...

1143: Clarence House has just confirmed that Prince William will be at Wembley tonight. As an Aston Villa fan, our future King will probably be pleased that Scott Carson has got the nod over Paul Robinson. He won't be pleased he's going bald though. Gutted.

"When was the last time England beat a team above them in the Fifa rankings in a competitive match? Anyone?" Geoff, Larne, via text

1132: Some other permutations for you: In Group A, Poland are through, while Serbia keep alive their hopes if they win and Finland beat Portugal. Portugal need a point to qualify, while Finland go through if they win unless Serbia also win. I think. You can find permutations for all the groups on the BBC website.

"Katona doin' Iceland is a lot less cringeworthy than Alan Hansen in those Morrisons adverts!" Jamie via text

"I didn't think the English media even knew Norn Iron had a football from last Saturday's Football Focus. We exist!" Dawson, Belfast, via text

1123: And here Northern Ireland gaffer Nigel Worthington, also on 5 Live: "I am a big believer in fate. When I look at the players, they're on good form, in good spirits. You see Sweden, who haven't had the best of times recently; Latvia who have won a few games recently. We've picked up from the middle of the campaign and had two good results; Spain have qualified. I'm just hoping we can go and perform as we have done in the last couple of games and the result might just sort itself out."

"Your mate is playing 'City' golf and doesn't want England to win? You're hanging around with the wrong people. Come and hack around 18 at Richmond with me then we'll watch England thrash Croatia!" Johnny via text

1121: Former England winger Chris Waddle on David Beckham: "He's lost that competitive edge, week in, week out, that he had when he was at Real Madrid and when he was in England. He might think 'I'm doing alright in these games'. but the opposition he's playing against is very, very limited. He's got to realise that he's way off the pace at this level against a class side like Croatia, so he's going to have to affect the game later on."

1117: I have just received news that made me almost as sick as downing those weird spirits in the Chinese Karaoke bar last Thursday night: Nora Hardwick, 102, has decided to pose topless for a nude calendar. According to the Press Association, she will "bare all behind the bar of her local pub in Ancaster, Lincolnshire, draped only in a pink scarf". My nan once gave me and my two older brothers a Daily Mirror Sam Fox calendar each for Christmas. Not only was I about nine, she should have known I always was, and always will be, a Linda Lusardi man.

1115: Former England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn has told BBC Radio 5 Live that Paul Robinson being dropped might be good for him. Here's what he had to say:

"It might be a good thing for him. It pulls him out of the firing line. There is going to be stuff in the newspapers about him being discarded but he has to go back to Tottenham and start enjoying his football again. I don't think he is under this sort of scrutiny. He needs to get his confidence back and he will be pressing for a place again in the summer when, hopefully, we are at the Euro 2008 finals."

1108: I just phoned a mate and asked where he's watching the match and his exact words were, "I'm playing City Golf, I hope we get knocked out". I'm coming across that attitude more and more and I'm not sure I like it.

"Kerry Katona is a disgrace. Why is it between Carson and Robinson when Carson and James are clearly the best two keepers around?" Edd via text

1103: Mr Anon, Anonsville, I'll make you right. As anyone who's anyone knows, Razzle was rude, naughty and one pound forty...

"Razzle! I'm sure they can afford a more upmarket publication on their wages, say Mayfair?" Mr anon, Anonsville, via text

1059: Good old Sam Lyon. He's spent the last couple of days chatting with various old England luminaries and asking how the ruddy heck they're going to beat Croatia tonight. Says Gary Lineker: "Being positive is the key. The one thing we are not very good at is setting our stall out for a draw. We are not Italians. We must play our normal pressing game." And Graham Taylor: "Our culture is to play to win. If you play for a draw you are likely to get beat." Humbling stuff.

1050: I see good old Kerry Katona, two-time mum of the year, has admitted to tabbing and boozing while pregnant. Obviously that's not right, but what really annoys me about her is her great pride in doing the family shop at Iceland. Every time I walk down Romford high street, I look at all the fat kids, think of Katona, and a little piece of me dies. Now Bejam, that was a supermarket...

"I need some proper ideas for two-month relationship Christmas presents! Come on, make my life that bit easier. By the way, keep Defoe, leave out Lamps." Kev via text

England team
1037: My colleague Mandeep Sanghera has been chatting to what we call in journalistic circles, "an insider" with the England squad. He has served us up such nuggets as the fact that the players are currently "polishing off breakfast" and that, because there are no games consoles in the hotel, they will have to read to pass the time. Hope they've got plenty of copies of Razzle in.

"Re: gift for a relationship going down-hill - get her something two sizes too big, that should finish it off." Ben, Harrogate, via text

1029: Tough ask for Northern Ireland tonight - even if they do a number on Spain, Sweden would still have to lose against Latvia. But, without meaning to patronise Nigel Worthington's team, it's been one hell of an effort still to be in the shake-up at the death. In fact, I don't think the English media have made a big enough thing of it. Get your fingers out, English media, and give Northern Ireland their dues! Anyway, UK users can see Gerry Armstrong's old-school classic on this website. Love it.

"McClaren shouldn't be dropping Robbo for this game - fact! It's the wrong time, the game is too big. He should have shown some balls and done it before now if at all. Let's all hope it doesn't backfire! Becks is the right decision though. He can't play in a 4-3-3." Mark, Redcar, via text

"I don't know what to get a woman after two months, but my dad got my mum a deep-fat fryer as her main present once. That was a quiet Christmas." Dave G via text

1021: Unless you're a boxing fan, you probably haven't heard of him, but Alex Arthur was responsible for one of the greatest sporting quotes ever last year. Referring to the fact that he wasn't chosen to feature on the new 20 note, he said: "No disrespect to Adam Smith. He clearly created a great piece of work studying the rise of industry and commercial development in Europe and making the case for free markets - but come on, I'm the first ever Scottish fighter to win both the British and European super-featherweight titles." Absolutely nothing to do with tonight's Euro 2008 qualifiers, but genius nonetheless.

"What would be an appropriate gift to a woman after three years of a relationship that's now going downhill? A bracelet and pants?" Tim via text

1013: Lots of magnificent content on the website today, including this story about a man-sized scorpion that they've found in Germany or something. Bet he could have beaten Keano up. There's some pretty good stuff on all the European qualifiers as well - I suggest you take a look. Good news! Steve Harmison's boots have arrived in Colombo...Bad news! He's still a bit rubbish - six no-balls, a wide and 33 runs conceded in four overs. Get a grip Harmy...

1004: Nigel Worthington's contract expires at the end of the current qualifying campaign - surely he'll get a new one? It's a no-brainer in my opinion. Lots of reaction to my imaginary Roy Keane-Jonny Wilkinson super-fight. Marty from Northern Ireland says Wilko "couldn't beat eggs", while Bob thinks Wilko would prevail "because he's a perfectionist". I'd imagine Yehudi Menuhin was a perfectionist, but I wouldn't have fancied his chances against Roy Keane.

"Rule 2 of street fighting: learn how to spell 'psychopath'." Anon via text

0957: Here are some footbally quotes from England's Gareth Barry: "We need to approach the game in a positive way because there's nothing worse than playing for a draw. That's when you get into difficulties. We need to take the game to Croatia and push for the win."

Apropos nothing in particular, what do we all feel is the appropriate Christmas present from man to woman after just two months of a relationship? My mate's girlfriend reckons a bracelet and pants, but I reckon that might be over-cooking it a bit.

"Joe (see below) - Wilkinson to beat Keane in a fight? The first rule of street fighting: never bet against the psycopath." Tom via text

0947: Get your nuts round this, which I just lifted from The Guardian: "The head of the Croatian football federation was arrested at Gatwick Airport on suspicion of shoplifting ahead of his country's Euro 2008 match against England.

Zorislav Srebric, 67 - general secretary of Croatia's FA - was held in WHSmith at the West Sussex airport's South Terminal after allegedly stealing stationery." I've just had news in that he's been released without charge by Sussex police. Seriously, who goes about nicking stationery? Saying that, I once got collared for nicking a tube of Pringles and a Ginster slice as a callow youth. Memo to any parents out there: that's what happens when you only give your kids 50p dinner money every day...

"David Healy proves that you don't need Hollywood names to win matches - something that Steve McClaren should take note of when he persists in picking big name stars who don't work together." Greg via text

0930: Literary buffs among you would have noticed that the quote I attributed to Steven Gerrard below was in fact Shakespeare. Gerrard actually said: "There have been so many times at Anfield where we have been in difficult situations and the crowd have bailed us out.

"They are famous for being known as the 12th man, and as a player it gives you a massive boost out there when things are not going well. The crowd really do help you to deliver a performance - and we will certainly need our fans to play a massive part at Wembley."

"No no NO!! I can't believe people are persisting with this Jonny Wilkinson thing. Keane would destroy him, and then probably eat his children." Rhys via text

0905: Anyway, enough of England, they're boring me a bit - has there ever been a more mercurial footballer than David Healy? A decent, if unspectacular, club footballer, Healy has scored 33 international goals and netted his 13th of the qualifying campaign against Denmark last week, breaking Davor Suker's record in the process. What a goal that was - it put me in mind of Glenn Hoddle's goal against Watford back in the day.

0855: Croatia boss Slaven Bilic reckons the Wembley pitch is ruddy rubbish. He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "The pitch is no good and not in the condition that Wembley used to be known for." That's what happens when you let a couple of hundred 300lb Americans in helmets roll about about on it for three and a half hours.

"Sorry Ben, but Jonny Wilkinson is renowned for being hard as nails. Roy Keane couldn't make a dent in him. By the way, is dropping Becks really the best move?" Joe via text

"He's a strong, strong character and if he is dropped he'll come out the other side better for it."
Former England goalkeeper Ray Clemence on Paul Robinson

0845: Time for some permutation chat. England need a point to qualify and can top Group E with a 2-0 or three-goal win. Northern Ireland can qualify with a win over Spain coupled with Sweden losing to Latvia. Got it?

0832: All you England fans will be pleased to know that former coach Sven-Goran Eriksson "is confident England will qualify" for Euro 2008. If I remember rightly, Sven was also confident England would beat Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, beat Portugal in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 and beat them again in the quarter-finals of last year's World Cup. Ignore him.

0823: We were just chatting about this new iPhone. Apparently I can get a free upgrade, but I'm not sure whether it's worth it if I'm likely to a) leave it in the back of a cab b) leave it on a pub bench c) leave it festering in my coat pocket and get chewing gum all over it. I read recently that the quality of a man's mobile is one of the first things a woman looks for in a man, which is a heartwarming snapshot of modern Britain. Bet all the England team have got

0807: Rumours abound that England boss Steve McClaren is going to show some balls and drop David Beckham and Paul Robinson for Shaun Wright-Phillips and Scott Carson. Old David Seaman won't be happy about that, he was going off on one saying Robbo shouldn't be binned in yesterday's papers. You can pick your England team on the website. They won't play, but you can send it to your mates and stuff.

0800: Morning you lot. Big day folks, big day, and it's me who has the pleasure of taking you through to about 1500 and talking a load of old rubbish about qualification permutations, England and Northern Ireland's hopes of making it to the European Championships and who would win in a fight between Roy Keane and Jonny Wilkinson. We had that argument down the pub the other day and a load of clowns went for Wilkinson.

In case any of you England fans need a bit of a gee-up at this un-Godly hour (who thought of having 7-5 shifts?), here's some chat from Steven Gerrard - he penned it himself inbetween playing Playstation and it's actually pretty good: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me, Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now-a-bed, Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here..." Brilliant.

Euro 2008 tables
12 Nov 07 |  Internationals


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