Football: Hoddle: 'We must take it as a lesson'

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The Independent Online
GLENN HODDLE blamed his side's defeat on two defensive errors but remained optimistic about England's chances of earning the point they need against Colombia to qualify for the second round.

"I'm very disappointed," he said. "I felt we worked hard enough to get back into the game and possibly win it, but the two sloppy goals we gave away have probably cost us. They're a very good side, I said that before the game, but apart from the two goals they didn't really create a chance. I can't remember David Seaman making that much of a save, so we're disppointed that other than the two chances we've kept them at bay and got ourselves in good positions and should have punished them."

Hoddle said Dan Petrsecu's winner for Romania was "a bitter pill to take, especially when you go straight up the other end and hit the post. It was just one of those horrible situations where I felt when I saw the ball coming over the top that something was going to happen.

"But the character and the performance was okay. Our concentration just wavered for a couple of moments in the game and we've been punished. But I still say if we perform like that against Colombia we're going to have a good night. The morale isn't down, but we've got to take it as a lesson.

"The major thing for us is that Ince has picked up an ankle injury," Hoddle revealed, "which is going to be difficult to recover from in four days' time. I don't know when he got it but it was early in the game. We let him play on for 10 minutes but in the end it was just too painful for him. We also had to think about the other game coming up and he just wasn't himself, so we had to make the change."

Paying tribute to England's goalscorer, Hoddle said: "At 1-0 down, if you're a substitute you've got nothing to lose. He had a free role, I told him to just go out there and enjoy himself, see if he could get a goal and that's the way it turned out. He got space and he was there to finish it off."

Owen himself described his goal: "I saw it bouncing just behind Scholesy so I shouted at him to leave it and when I hit it I just watched it go past the keeper and then I was off before it hit the net. But although it's nice for me to score its disappointing we've ended up losing. Thankfully we only need a point in the last game."

Anghel Iordanescu, the victorious Romanian coach, described the result as "a very valuable victory". "It's going to make a lot of people very happy in Romania," he said. "It was well deserved and was due to tremendous efforts from our team. It comes from the bottom of their hearts and souls. I felt England dominated the first half but the second half was a wonderful spectacle for everybody, Romania scored the decisive goal and I think was due to our tactics and intelligence."

The result, and Colombia's victory earlier in the day, put a different complexion on England's last match, and Colombia's coach, Hernan Gomez, was upbeat. "We still feel very confident. It will be just like today. We had to win today. We'll have to win on Friday too," he said.

Colombia's winner was scored by their substitute, Leider Preciado, had his own warning for Engalnd, saying: "We will have to work very hard this week to bring satisfaction to the Colombian people."

Gomez insisted that his captain Carlos Valderrama, whose pass made Preciado's goal, will be a key figure again on Friday.

"Every opportunity we had in the game sprang from Carlos," Gomez said of the 37-year-old midfielder. "He is still a very important figure for us. He is still a leader."

Preciado made light of the absence of Tino Asprilla, banished from the Colombian camp in France after criticising the coach and his tactics.

"When Preciado came on he gave us the fresh legs we needed and honestly they helped us a great deal," Valderrama said. "We had to be brave because winning was the only important thing. England will be hard for us for the whole 90 minutes, but will have faith in ourselves."

Preciado's strike, page 29

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