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England: the road to Italy 19

90

 
Background 32 UEFA national teams entered qualification, and 13 teams will qualify for the 1990 World Cup.  Qualifying for the final tournament from the larger groups were the winners and runners-up and from the three smaller groups the winners and the two best second-place teams, determined on the basis of, in order, points, goal difference, number of goals scored and, if still necessary, a playoff match at a neutral venue.

The teams were divided into preliminary competition qualifying groups at a draw in Zürich on 12 December 1987.

There were 12 withdrawals from the 116 teams entering.  The most notable absentee was Mexico, handed a two-year ban in 1988 for using overage players in an under-21 tournament.  
 

UEFA Group 2

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
Sweden 6 4 2 0 9 3 +6 10
England 6 3 3 0 10 0 +10 9
Poland 6 2 1 3 5 8 -3 5
Albania 6 0 0 6 3 15 -12 0

Matches
19 October 1988
Poland 1 Albania 0 [0-0]
Stadion Śląski, Katowicka, Chorzów
(35,000)
K.Warzycha
England 0 Sweden 0 [0-0]
Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London (65,628)
 
5 November 1988
Albania 1 Sweden 2 [1-0]
Stadiumi Kombetar, Tiranë (20,000)
Shehu
Holmqvist, Ekström
8 March 1989
Albania 0 England 2 [0-1]
Stadiumi Kombetar, Tiranë (25,000)
Barnes, Robson
26 April 1989
England 5 Albania 0 [2-0]
Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London (60,602)
Beardsley (2), Lineker, Waddle, Gascoigne
7 May 1989
Sweden 2 Poland 1 [0-0]
Råsunda Fotbollstadion, Solna kommun
(35,032)
Ljung, Larsson
Tarasiewicz
3 June 1989
England 3 Poland 0 [1-0]
Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London (69,203)
Lineker, Barnes, Webb
6 September 1989
Sweden 0 England 0 [0-0]
Råsunda Fotbollstadion, Solna kommun
(38,588)
 
8 October 1989
Sweden 3 Albania 1 [1-1]
Råsunda Fotbollstadion, Solna kommun
(32,423)
Magnusson, Ingesson, Engqvist
Kushta
11 October 1989
Poland 0 England 0 [0-0]
Stadion Śląski, Katowicka, Chorzów
(32,423)
 
25 October 1989
Poland 0 Sweden 2 [0-1]
Stadion Śląski, Katowicka, Chorzów
(15,000)
P.Larsson (pen), Ekström
15 November 1989
Albania 1 Poland 2 [0-1]
Stadiumi Kombetar, Tiranë (10,000)
Kushta
Tarasiewicz, Ziober
Notes

England were drawn with Sweden, Poland and Albania in Group 2, one of the three smaller groups.  Although they were unbeaten and did not give up a single goal, England finished second to Sweden by a single point.  Sweden beat Poland twice while England, in their last qualifying match, could only muster a goalless draw in Poland, surviving a Polish onslaught only through Peter Shilton's magnificence in goal and the crossbar's deflection of a last-minute 30-yard shot, a fortuity that furnished the razor-thin margin by which England gained their place in Italy. 

England qualified as one of the two best second-place finishers in the three smaller groups.  They were, in fact, the second-best second-place finisher.  Germany, second in Group 4, had the same number of points and an identical goal difference, but had scored three more goals than England.  Denmark, second in Group 1, failed to qualify because they earned a point less than England and Germany.  Had England lost that last match in Poland--had Poland's last-minute shot been a few inches lower--they would have failed to qualify because, while they would still have had the same number of points and the same goal difference as Denmark, they scored five fewer goals.

 
 

CG