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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 November 2007, 08:35 GMT
England 'wilted under pressure'
Slaven Bilic
I read in your papers that no Croatian would start in the England team - that's ridiculous

Slaven Bilic
Croatia coach Slaven Bilic says England's players wilted under the expectations of the nation's fans and the spotlight created by the media.

"We didn't feel that kind of negative pressure," said Bilic.

"It's a bit hard, although they are world-class players and should cope with it, it is hard to cope with that kind of negative pressure.

"Wake up. You didn't lose the game because of the tactics. I admire your team but we're simply a better team."

Bilic's team had already qualified for Euro 2008 before Wednesday night's match at rain-lashed Wembley.

But they were determined to put England out of the tournament and displayed a cohesion that the home side sorely lacked.

Bilic, a former West Ham player, went on: "I read in your papers that no Croatian would start in the England team - that's ridiculous, wake up.

"There is no non-Englishman who loves your guys more than I do but there are good players in small countries as well.

"Nothing is wrong with English football but you have to realise that this was by far the most difficult group.


"No other group had such quality in the fourth and fifth teams as Israel and Macedonia.

"It was a great match which we fully deserved to win.

"We showed great individual quality, great team play and great character.

"It's hard to win here anyway but especially after they equalised."

England had not conceded a goal in the five previous home matches during the qualifying campaign.

But Croatia put three past a hapless defence, with goalkeeper Scott Carson's horrendous error prompting the floodgates to open eight minutes into the match.

Bilic said: "We would have been happy with a draw but you can't play for it.

"We tried to be as offensive as we could and to finish our attacks with five or six players.

"We can do that because we have players with great skill but also good lungs who can run all day."

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