England edge closer to Euros


Euro 2012 round-up:Below-par England need only a point from next month's trip to Montenegro to reach the Euro 2012 finals after Ashley Young's goal earned victory over Wales at Wembley.

Things could have all changed though when Wales' Robert Earnshaw was guilty of blowing a glorious chance which would have deny England victory at Wembley.

Wales were exceeding expectations but still trailing to Young's first-half goal when Earnshaw was presented with the type of chance a Sunday morning park player would expect to put away 15 minutes from time.

Six yards out, central position, keeper no longer at home. All the Cardiff City man had to do was tap it in. Inexplicably, he failed, sidefooting over the bar to the shattering disbelief of a Wales team who deserved more as England moved to within a point of reaching Euro 2012.

Capello may believe his players don't think of him as an ogre anymore. But after the fizz of Bulgaria, the Italian cannot have been happy with this flat performance.

A draw is now required in Montenegro on October 7 to book a place in next summer's finals, when it is to be hoped Capello finds the more energetic incarnation of his side, even though they did manage to end a four-match sequence without a win on home soil.

Steven Naismith threw Scotlandlifeline in Group I by firing them to a crucial win over Lithuaniain Tuesday night's qualifier at Hampden.

Naismith claimed the only goal of the game after skipper Darren Fletcher was denied from the penalty spot.

The Scots held on for the victory which sees them now sit two points behind the Czech Republic with two games to go as both nations battle for a play-off spot.

Northern Ireland'shopes of reaching Euro 2012 were reduced to tatters in Tallinn as a series of individual mistakes left them on the wrong end of a humbling defeat by Estonia.

In a game littered with defensive mishaps, woeful lapses in concentration from goalkeeper Lee Camp and defender Gareth McAuley were responsible for two of Estonia's four goals, with the consolation effort coming only when Raio Piroja put the ball past his own keeper.

Comprehensive defeat to a nation ranked 86th in the Fifa rankings - 27 spots below Northern Ireland - will hurt but, having lost to Serbia on Friday too, it also leaves them fifth in Group C and with no hope of salvaging a play-off spot.

In the same group, Brian Kerr's Faroe Islandslost 3-1 to Serbia.

There was no goal flurry this time for Hollandbut they came away with a 2-0 victory over Finlandto move to the brink of qualification.

Days after thrashing San Marino11-0, the Dutch had to rely on a goal from Kevin Strootman and a 93rd-minute strike from Luuk de Jong to see off Finland, who were reduced to 10 men for the final half an hour as Perparim Hetemaj collected two yellow cards.

With the Dutch beginning the night six points clear of Sweden, they now look all but assured of a place for next summer's tournament.

Substitute Eduardo's game-changing contribution gave Croatia's Euro 2012 qualifying hopes a huge shot in the arm as they came from behind to beat 10-man Israel.

A point behind Group F leaders Greece going into the game, Croatia were trailing to Tomer Hemed's 44th-minute effort when Eduardo was introduced at half-time.

And, after watching Luka Modric level two minutes after the break, he gave his side a man advantage when Tal Ben Haim saw red for fouling him in the 53rd minute, then a two-goal cushion with goals in the 55th and 57th minutes.