Jubilant Russians Edge into Euro '08

APRussia's Yuri Zhirkov, left, vying for the ball with Andorra's Marcio Vieira during Wednesday's qualifying match.
LONDON -- The powerhouse teams made it to Euro 2008 on Wednesday. All except one.

England won't be joining World Cup holder Italy, three-time European champion Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, defending champion Greece and the other seven qualifiers in Austria and Switzerland next June.

England lost 3-2 at home to Croatia, and that means that the likes of David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen will be watching the games on television instead of playing in them.

"It's a summer without seeing the flags out in the streets and seeing the atmosphere around England and that's going to be devastating for the country," said Beckham, who could wind up stuck at 99 England appearances.

"We all know there are more important things than football in the world. But for us not to qualify for a competition, it's a huge, huge thing."

The lineup for next year's European Championship was finalized n Wednesday when Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and Russia captured the last four spots.

Russia qualified with a 1-0 victory over Andorra but mainly because England squandered its advantage by losing 3-2 at Wembley.

After Beckham came off the bench and provided the cross to set up Peter Crouch for an equalizer at 2-2, it looked as if England had captured the point it needed to edge out the Russians. But Mladen Petric scored a long-range winner for Croatia with 13 minutes to go to silence the Wembley crowd of 88,000.

Marcus Allback scored a first-minute goal to put the Swedes on the way to Euro 2008 in a 2-1 victory over Latvia in Group F.

"It's wonderful to win at home before our own fans in the last qualifier and to experience a fifth straight major next summer will be fantastic," manager Lars Lagerback said.

Spain, which already had qualified from the group, finished at the top by beating Northern Ireland 1-0.

Turkey defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 with a 43rd-minute goal by Nihat Kahveci in Istanbul. The 2002 World Cup semifinalist advances along with defending European champion Greece, which already had guaranteed a place and finished at the top of Group C after winning 2-1 in Hungary. Greece goes to Euro 2008 with the best qualifying record of 10 victories, one loss and one draw.

Turkey's narrow victory was enough to edge out Norway, which won 4-1 in Malta helped by three first-half goals by Steffen Iversen.

Portugal needed only to avoid defeat against visiting Finland to make it along with Group A winner Poland. Serbia, which has one game still to play after Saturday's postponement of its match against Kazakhstan, cannot qualify.

Before Wednesday's games, 10 teams had qualified to join co-hosts Austria and Switzerland in next year's championship -- three-time winner Germany, World Cup champion Italy, Greece, France, Czech Republic, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland and Croatia.

The draw for the four first-round groups will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Dec. 2.

Italy finished at the top of Group B with a 3-1 victory over the Faroe Islands, and France finished second after a 2-2 draw with Ukraine in Kiev.

The Czech Republic finished ahead of Germany in Group D by winning 2-0 in Cyprus with goals by Daniel Pudil and Jan Koller. The Germans finished two points behind after being held 0-0 at home by Wales.

Four days after guaranteeing a place in the final tournament with an unimpressive 1-0 victory over Luxembourg, the Netherlands tumbled to a 2-1 loss at Belarus. Vitaliy Bulyga and Vladimir Korytko put the home side ahead, and Rafael van der Vaart's reply for the Dutch came with a minute to go.

The Dutch team's uninspired performances have led to calls for manager Marco van Basten to be fired.

Romania finished at the top of Group G after a 6-1 win over Albania.