Three Lions Euro dream comes to a cruel end despite win

Sunday 18 Jan 2015

England Futsal suffered the cruellest of fates when their European Championship dream came to an end on goal-difference.

Pete Sturgess's side picked up a win and a draw in their first two preliminary round qualifiers earlier in the week, and wrapped up Group E with another victory against Andorra on Saturday.

But despite their positive result, courtesy of goals from George Nash, Ian Parkes and Luke Ballinger, Latvia's 8-0 win over mini-tournament hosts Malta sent them through to the next stage at the expense of the Three Lions.

Andorra 2-3 England

UEFA Futsal Euro
Qualifying Preliminary Round
Hibernians Pavilion, Paola, Malta
Saturday 17 January

England arrived at the Hibernians Pavilion knowing that even a victory may not be enough. With Latvia's encounter with Malta following their clash with Andorra, they would have to wait to learn their fate.

Nonetheless, they started with intensity in their attacking play and Andorra were forced back time and time again.

England took a two-goal lead through Nash and Parkes inside the opening 11 minutes, before being pegged back by Perez's strike for Andorra.

Ballinger then restored England's two-goal advantage on the stroke of half-time and, predictably, as the game resumed they were forced to defend.

It led to a very cagey and nervous finish. Andorra pulled another goal back through Raventos with just over ten minutes left, while England had a number of attempts to extend their lead, thwarted by good defending or wayward shooting.

The match finished with another well-deserved victory but the Three Lions had to play the waiting game to see if their campaign would continue.

Latvia had to win by more than four goals to go through as group winners and they swept Malta aside with some clinical Futsal, hitting eight goals without reply and taking their place in the main round of qualifying.

Despite their disappointment, Sturgess and his side will return home with pride - and an unbeaten run of eight games - intact.

England Team: 1 James Dalton (GK), 2 Ben Mortlock (c), 3 Agon Rexha, 6 Ian Parkes, 12 Stuart Cook, 13 Jordan Parker (GK), 4 Richard Ward, 5 George Nash, 7 David Jennings, 8 Luke Ballinger, 9 William Rooke, 10 James Webb, 11 Sotonye Toluwanimi, 14 William Gay

Goals: Nash 8, Parkes 11, Ballinger 19

By FA Staff