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England: the road to Sweden 19



UEFA Group 7

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
England 6 3 3 0 7 3 +4 9
Republic of Ireland 6 2 4 0 13 6 +7 8
Poland 6 2 3 1 8 6 +2 7
Turkey 6 0 0 6 1 14 -13 0

17 October 1990
Republic of Ireland 5 Turkey 0 [2-0]
Lansdowne Road, Dublin (46,000)
Aldridge (3), O'Leary, Quinn
England 2 Poland 0 [1-0]
Wembley Stadium, Wembley (77,040)
Lineker (pen), Beardsley
14 November 1990
Republic of Ireland 1 England 1 [0-0]
Lansdowne Road, Dublin (45,000)
Turkey 0 Poland 1 [0-1]
Inönü Stadyumu, İstanbul (4,868)
 27 March 1991
England 1 Republic of Ireland 1 [1-1]
Wembley Stadium, Wembley (77,753)
Staunton OG (L.Dixon)
17 April 1991
Poland 3 Turkey 0 [0-0]
Stadion Wojska Polskiego, Warszawa (1,061)
Tarasiewicz (2), Kosecki
1 May 1991
Republic of Ireland 0 Poland 0 [0-0]
Lansdowne Road, Dublin (46,000)
Turkey 0 England 1 [0-0]
Atatürk Stadyumu, İzmir (20,000/25,000)
16 October 1991
Poland 3 Republic of Ireland 3 [0-1]
Stadion Lecha, Poznań (11,400)
Czachowski, Furtok, Urban
McGrath, Townsend, Cascarino
England 1 Turkey 0 [1-0]
Wembley Stadium, Wembley (50,896)
13 November 1991
Poland 1 England 1 [1-0]
Stadion Lecha, Poznań (10,300/15,000)
Turkey 1 Republic of Ireland 3 [1-1]
Inönü Stadyumu, İstanbul (33,601)
Byrne (2), Cascarino


Seven of the 12 matches in this group ended in a win for one of the teams; six of those seven involved Turkey.  Of the six matches involving only the other teams, five ended in draws.  Fortunately, advancement did not hinge on how many goals were pumped past the Turkish goalkeeper.  In fact, the group's winner, England, managed only a pair of 1-0 victories against Turkey and won in Turkey against the run of play.  Still, the group was one of those that gave reason for later adoption of competition rules that ignored goals scored against the last place team in breaking deadlocks in points among the top teams.

Only first-place teams in the qualifying groups advanced to the eight-team final tournament.  The match that on paper gave England the points edge, their 2-0 victory over Poland, was played on the competition's first day.  But the match that actually decided the group was England's return visit to Poland on the competition's last day.  The Republic of Ireland had a far superior goal difference and could be expected to beat Turkey away on the same day, which meant England had to draw against Poland to win the group and advance to the finals.  An Irish victory and an English loss would give Ireland the spot in the finals.  Poland could match Ireland on points but not on goal difference unless they trounced England by a wide margin, an event so unlikely they really had nothing but pride at stake.  

Ireland beat Turkey 3-1, as expected.  England needed the draw.  The Poles took the lead in the first half on an own goal.  Things looked increasingly bleak for England as the second half wore on with no further scoring.  Finally, in the 78th minute, Gary Lineker saved England yet again with a superb effort, twisting in mid-air to reach a ball headed on from a corner kick and volleying it into the net.  England were through.