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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 06:06 GMT 07:06 UK
End of road for wayward England
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer in Gelsenkirchen

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Eriksson's side again failed to get past the quarter-finals
Sven-Goran Eriksson's England reign ended on familiar territory - defeat at the hands of his nemesis Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Just as in Shizuoka in 2002 and Lisbon two years later, Eriksson was left to tell a tale of failure while Scolari celebrated the victory.

And even though England's latest defeat by Portugal on penalties can be added to a list of heroic failures, it was the culmination of a World Cup that was a massive anti-climax.

England reserved their best performance of a disappointing tournament for this eventful quarter-final under the roof of the AufSchalke Arena.

There was a drive and purpose that has been missing, and there was great credit in the way they overcame Wayne Rooney's second-half sending off.

But this was another missed opportunity against a Portugal side that has deteriorated visibly since reaching the Euro 2004 final.

England's golden generation will leave Baden-Baden on Sunday knowing that for all the heartbreak of their latest penalty shoot-out defeat, they are still what they have been for years - a last-eight team in major tournaments.

They were provided with a smooth path through the World Cup and lost their way.

Rooney's red card was a devastating blow for England, and while its validity may be questioned by some, he was running on a short fuse for much of the evening and the whole incident could have been avoided.

He was not helped by the shameful antics of his Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who could hardly wait to urge referee Horacio Elizondo to send Rooney on his way after his clash with Ricardo Carvalho.

One presumes Ronaldo has more chance of leaving Manchester United at the end of this eventful night than he did at the start because it is doubtful he can face Rooney across a dressing room again.

(Hargreaves) was immense in all departments of the game and must now be handed the holding role on a permanent basis

England have not possessed a killer touch throughout the World Cup, and once again they failed to pose a consistent threat with Rooney alone up front.

David Beckham was poor before his injury, looking off the pace and failing miserably to deliver from set-pieces.

The Real Madrid midfielder's decision to resign as captain the day after the defeat may have been a case of jumping before being pushed. He must now convince new manager Steve McClaren that having returned to the ranks he is still worth a place in the team.

Owen Hargreaves has no such worries. He started the World Cup with his place in the squad being questioned and ended it with the best individual performance by an England player in the tournament.

He was immense in all departments of the game and must now be handed the holding role on a permanent basis.

England actually created the better chances of a clash that never took off completely, played in stifling conditions.

Frank Lampard and Aaron Lennon had opportunities, but once Rooney had left the action there was an inevitability about penalties - and an inevitability about the outcome.

Lampard ended his desperate tournament with a miss, while Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher also failed.

The sight of Carragher stepping forward was mystifying, especially as he was clearly sent on to take a penalty despite having little or no history from the spot.

One of the most popular and professional members of this England party deserved better.

And with Ronaldo's final penalty, defeat was sealed - a familiar end to a World Cup that came and went without any England contribution that will live in the memory.

SEE ALSO
England beaten on penalties again
01 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006
Rooney's dismissal stuns England
01 Jul 06 |  England
Experts slam Sven
01 Jul 06 |  England
Eriksson's England time in photos
24 Jan 06 |  Photo Galleries
Final whistle sounds for Eriksson
01 Jul 06 |  Internationals
Beckham quits as England captain
02 Jul 06 |  England
Beckham's England captaincy in photos
02 Jul 06 |  Internationals


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