Job done, just about. England fought for a draw from a bad-tempered match in Turkey last night to qualify for the Euro 2004 finals next summer. They had no fans, no Rio Ferdinand and no luck in Istanbul, where the captain, David Beckham, slipped as he went to take a penalty and missed, extravagantly, in front of 50,000 Turkish fans.
The most drastic policing operation in the history of Uefa, coupled with Foreign Office warnings and British detectives at Ataturk airport, ensured hardly any supporters made the journey except 45 who were stopped at the arrivals gate and sent home.
The only hint of trouble off the pitch was between players in the tunnel at half-time. Asked about his confrontation with the Turkish defender Alpay, Beckham said: "He said something about my mother."
After the game, the England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, again denied rumours he was leaving. Relations between the players and the Football Association remain tense after the team threatened to strike last week in support of Rio Ferdinand, left behind for failing to take a drugs test.
The FA will now tighten its procedures to ensure there can be no repetition of Ferdinand's "forgotten" test. The "man-marking" practised in Olympic sports is likely to be introduced, with an official assigned to each player so there is no possibility of his slipping away before giving a urine sample. Ferdinand will appear before the FA's compliance unit tomorrow.
But while England fans returned home from Turkey feeling hard done by, the supporters back home were in cheerier mood. At a Turkish-owned pub in north London, where England fans watched the game beside their Turkish counterparts, the atmosphere was less vitriolic.
The Marquis of Lansdowne, in the heart of London's Turkish district in Stoke Newington, was packed to the rafters. Because they could not go to Turkey, England fans from the London Away Supporters Club had decided "to attend an away match at home".
Simon Harris, 36, from north London, said: "We want to send a message to the knucklehead England fan that football is a game and we should be able to watch it with each other in a cordial atmosphere, which is what we had here."
Those getting to Turkey were far from happy. Rick Farmary, 31, from Nottingham, was turned away at the stadium. "I've spent a lot of money for this and I am gutted," he said. "We were treated like animals." One man flew via Zurich, and then on to Ankara, from where he boarded an overnight train back to Istanbul 24 hours for a journey that normally takes three-and-a half hours.
Kevin Miles, the head of the England Football Supporters' Association, said: "This has not been popular among supporters but I think it is seen as acceptable as a one-off in the sense that the security objectives seem to have been met."
* Scotland beat Lithuania 1-0 to qualify for the play-offs as did Wales, though beaten 3-2 by Serbia. But Ireland failed, losing 2-0 in Switzerland.
Additional reporting by Cole Moreton and Andrew JohnsonReuse content