England hopes fade

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The Independent Online
England need to win their final qualifying match in the European Under-21 Championship on 14 November to have any chance of reaching the quarter-finals. Even then, a victory over Austria might not be enough.

That was the stark message for their coach, Dave Sexton, as his squad headed home after Tuesday's 2-2 draw against Norway in their friendly international.

Portugal, who went one point clear in Group Six on Tuesday, thanks to a1-0 win over Austria, boast a superior goal difference, and complete their fixtures by entertaining the Republic of Ireland on the same day that England play. It will be a major surprise if Ireland do block their path, although they forced a draw at home to Portugal in April.

Peter Bonetti, the goalkeeping coach to England Under-21s, said: "The Portuguese have got themselves in this position because of their defensive record. They have only conceded one goal in seven games.

"We were hoping Austria might pick up a point, but it doesn't look good for us now."

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