Russia beat England; Portugal triumph

London, October 17:

England’s chances of reaching next year’s European Championship were hit on Wednesday when it lost 2-1 at Russia, and Portugal had a crucial 2-1 win at Kazakhstan. England was leading 1-0 on a 29th minute goal from Wayne Rooney, a score that would have earned both England and Croatia spots at the tournament, when it conceded two second-half goals to Roman Pavlyunchenko.

Croatia, which was idle on Wednesday, is still likely to win Group E and qualify. But Russia will now advance ahead of England if it wins its last two matches at Israel and Andorra.

Portugal was scoreless with six minutes left, and facing a struggle to qualify, when Maritimo striker Ariza Makukula scored on debut with a header from Ricardo Quaresma’s right-wing cross. Cristiano Ronaldo then made it 2-0 in injury time when he shot high into the net from a cross by Manchester United teammate Nani.

Dmitriy Byakov headed a late consolation for the home side, but Portugal’s victory lifted the 2004 runner-up to within a point of Group A leader Poland with two games remaining.