Football: England denied the spoils

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The Independent Online
England Under-21s saw their hopes of qualifying for the European Championship finals suffer a severe dent as they were held by Georgia at The Valley last night.

England moved back to the top of Group Two - a point clear of Italy - but they surrendered the advantage gained via the win over the Italians in February. Now Italy, who have a vastly superior goal difference, will be favourites to qualify as England have to visit them in the final group match next October.

The England manager, Peter Taylor, fielded an attack-minded side against a team who had been hammered 6-0 when they visited Italy. However, they struggled to find any fluency against a side who showed plenty of spirit, but little in the way of quality. Only Arsenal's Stephen Hughes and the debutant goalkeeper, Richard Wright of Ipswich, impressed

Scotland's Under-21s also had a bad night, being beaten 2-1 by Sweden in Trollhattan. Gary Germaine, the West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper, was at fault for both goals as 10-man Sweden stole victory. Jim Hamilton gave the Scots the lead before Olof Mellberg equalised just before the interval. Tommy Jonsson stole the winner with only four minutes left in the Group Four qualifier in which Marcus Lantz was sent off in the 54th minute for stamping on Hamilton.

In Bucharest, Republic of Ireland Under-21s failed to find the finishing touch as Romania beat them 1-0 in Group Eight. Cornel Frasineanu scored the winner after just 14 minutes, curling a shot over Brendan Murphy.

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