England lose winning habit


ENGLAND head coach Fabio Capello defended his team after they were held to a goalless draw at Wembley by Montenegro, a side ranked one place below Burkina Faso.

Capello’s outfit failed to breach Montenegro’s stubborn rearguard, which is yet to concede a goal in four Euro 2012 qualifiers, striker Wayne Rooney failing to convert two good chances.

And Montenegro – which has a population of 672,000 – might even have snatched a shock win when Milan Jovanovic’s long-range effort beat Joe Hart but rattled against the crossbar late in the game. The draw ended England’s 100 per cent record and leaves them second in Group G, three points behind Montenegro, who have played one game more.

Capello said: “I am a fighter. It is one game. We have to fight again. I think we are a good team. The goalkeeper was the best player for Montenegro. This is football.

“You have to respect little countries. They have good players. At this moment they are psychologically at a high point having won three games.

“They were compact. The quality was good. Against Algeria [at this year’s World Cup] we didn’t create a lot of chances. Tonight we did create chances.”

Montenegro are perhaps better than their global standing suggests, but Capello still found himself batting away familiar questions about his future. Asked if he now questioned his decision to stay on after a disappointing World Cup, he said: “Absolutely no. This is my job. It is one game. When we finish the qualification it will have told you something about that.”

Bolton striker Kevin Davies, 33, came off the bench to win his first cap, but could not extend England’s run of 11 consecutive home victories. Visiting goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic took much of the credit, pouncing at the feet of Rooney after a Gerrard through-ball and then later denying both players with a smart double save. England appealed for a penalty when Jovanovic appeared to handle before the Liverpool forward almost profited at the other hand when his dipping shot hit the bar.

Gareth Barry had a chance to snatch a late winner but again Bozovic denied England.

Brave Scotland beaten by Spain

SCOTLAND came from two down but could not deny world champions Spain a 3-2 win in their Euro 2012 qualifier at Hampden. Fernando Lllorente got the winner after Steven Naismith and a Gerard Pique own goal cancelled out David Villa and Andres Iniesta strikes. Wales, Group G rivals to England, were thrashed 4-1 in Switzerland. Robbie Keane missed a penalty as the Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 in Slovakia.