Football: Hoddle: `There is no way we are out'

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The Independent Online
Glenn Hoddle took England's first home World Cup defeat with characteristic sang-froid. "Of course it's a disappointment," the England coach said. "My players gave every effort. But things broke the Italians' way. They had one chance - and they scored. But, in my mind now, there is no way we are out of this World Cup competition. It's a setback but it's not a disaster. There's a lot more football to be played."

Hoddle denied that his team selection had been adventurous, pointing out that it had been largely forced on him due to injuries to key players. Had Paul Gascoigne been fit, he said, he would certainly have put him on the substitutes' bench, at least.

Asked if this marked the end of Matt Le Tissier's international career, he laughed. "No, not at all. If you look at the first 45 minutes, the first two chances fell to him and in many ways that's to his credit because he was in the right place. He started the game extremely brightly, with some nice touches. It was a game which was always going to be tight, and a player like Matt can turn games like that in one moment. Ironically the chances came to him and he just could not turn it on this occasion. But if Matt had scored with that first half header, you would be asking me different questions."

Earlier in the evening, as Italy's jubilant coach, Cesare Maldini, considered the proposition that Gianfranco Zola had made the difference to the result, the man whom England had hoped might do the same paced in front of the interview podium and off in to the night, his face set in disappointment. "I'm going to see my family," Le Tissier said.

Alan Shearer, England's captain, reflected: "It just didn't happen for us. We had one or two half chances, but it was not enough. You are obviously going to miss first-choice players on an occasion like this but the players who came in couldn't have done any more.

"Of course we can still qualify, but we have made it extremely difficult. Both teams tonight have still got difficult games to come, and I've got a funny feeling that Poland might get something off Italy."

Stuart Pearce accepted that England had paid the price for just one defensive mistake. "That is international football. When you are in the top six sides in the world, that's what separates you. The ball came over the top and Zola nipped in behind. His first touch was extremely good."

Maldini played down any advantage of prior knowledge about England's team selection. "There are no secrets in international football," he said. "TV reaches everywhere and all these players are well known."

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