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National fail

The Soccer Special experts found few positives on a night of disappointment for the Home Nations.

Last Updated: 27/03/13 at 09:09

Rooney & Welbeck: disappointment for England

Rooney & Welbeck: disappointment for England

Robbie Fowler on why England didn't deserve three points in Montenegro

"Given the way England started the game, I was a little bit disappointed they didn't go on to win it, but the tactical battle was certainly won by the Montenegro manager who made a few changes and they looked such a different team after half time. From the 46th minute onwards, England ended up sitting back and inviting the Montenegro pressure and it was a matter of time before they scored - and deservedly so. England had a few long-range efforts later on in the game but never troubled the goalkeeper in the second half. In the first half they played very well; every player worked hard and Wayne Rooney was magnificent. He was unlucky not to score in three minutes, but ended up scoring after six. There were not too many other chances for England, to be honest, but we nearly got the win in the end through a Steven Gerrard free-kick. Overall, I think a draw was probably a fair result."

Match Report: Montenegro 1-1 England

Pat Bonner on the heartbreak of Austria's last-gasp leveller against Republic of Ireland

"They were hanging on at the end, but they made it so difficult for themselves by giving the ball away. Ireland had a chance to kill off this game up in the corner with a short free-kick, but they didn't do it. They failed to keep the ball and it ended up down in the other half on the edge of the box. Ireland dropped too deep and it came to David Alaba on the edge and he hit it from about 25 yards, it took a slight deflection and beat David Forde. It's heartbreaking for Ireland and I can't believe they lost this lead in the way that they did."

Match Report: Rep Ireland 2-2 Austria

Ian Rush on the tactical switch that saw Croatia score twice in the final 13 minutes to beat Wales 2-1

"The winning goal was always coming because it was all Croatia in the second half. It came from Eduardo, the former Arsenal man who hadn't done anything all game and it was started by Luka Modric. But in fairness, you should give Croatia a bit of credit because they changed their tactics at half-time and there was only one team in the second half. Wales looked very, very tired. They worked really hard, but the last 15 minutes took its toll on them. From Wales' point of view effort-wise, they can't ask for anything else, but in the second half the change of tactics from Croatia won them the game."

Match Report: Wales 1-2 Croatia

Iain Dowie on Northern Ireland losing, despite dominating Israel

"It drives you mad. Northern Ireland had dominated the game, but you've got to hold your hands up and say that Eli Guttman, the Israel manager made the right change by bringing on the Bruges striker Lior Refaelov for Maor Melikson. They played probably a 22-pass move and when it fell to Refaelov his left-foot finish was stunning. It was 1-0 totally against the run of play, but a brilliant football goal. They were then undone by a brilliant run from Itay Shechter, the boy from Swansea. He outstripped Jonny Evans down the right, took it to the corner and just as Evans thought he was shooting he nicked it past him and went down the by-line and cut it back. Eden Ben Basat the Toulouse centre-half put it in the top-right corner to make it 2-0."

Match Report: Northern Ireland 0-2 Israel

Graeme Sharp on the defensive errors that cost Scotland against Serbia

"Scotland didn't make any inroads whatsoever towards the Serbian goal and it was comfortable for them. Yes, we can complain about the pitch and everything else, but when Gordon Strachan looks back at the video of this, he'll say it's been two defensive mistakes that have cost them. Before that they were still in the game, but unfortunately if you make mistakes at this level you're going to be punished and that's been the case tonight. On the first goal Steven Whittaker was trying to play the ball across his own six-yard box and it fell to Filip Djuricic, who span on it for a simple finish. The second was also poor defending from Scotland; Gary Caldwell tried to play it up the line and it was intercepted and then Alan Hutton didn't win the challenge. There was a simple ball across the six-yard box and the keeper made a good save, but it fell to Djuricic and it was 2-0 and game over."

Match Report: Serbia 2-0 Scotland

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Readers' Comments

C

lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

hump3.
Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

H

e will be the England left back for ten years or more, and then you will have to thank MUFC for that. *smiles*

london saint
Shaw: Criticism spot on

P

urely because of that little diva moment he had last night, I don't want him coming to my club. DESTROYED ? Grow up and give something back to the club that helped put you up there on the world stage.

bale doubt
Saints' Schneiderlin stalemate

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