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Euro 2004: Croatia 2, England 4

Croatia 2, England 4
Rooney blasts England into the quarterfinals
Teenage sensation Wayne Rooney scored twice for the second game in a row as England marched into the quarterfinal of Euro 2004, beating Croatia 4-2 on Monday in Group B.

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LISBON, Portugal (AP)— Teenage sensation Wayne Rooney scored twice for the second game in a row as England marched into the quarterfinal of Euro 2004, beating Croatia 4-2 on Monday in Group B.

The 18-year-old striker, who has become the star of the championship after scoring twice against Switzerland on Thursday, scored with a long range shot and a simple push past the 'keeper from 18 meters as England fought back after going behind 1-0 after five minutes.

Paul Scholes also scored for the first time in 30 games over three years and Frank Lampard hit the fourth as England, which needed just a point to make the last eight, made sure.

Niko Kovac and Igor Tudor, who scored an own goal against France, replied for the Croatians.

The result means England finished second in the group behind France and now meets host Portugal in the quarterfinal on Thursday. French faces Greece on Friday.

The game kicked off with some 40,000 England fans outnumbering the Croatian followers in the 65,000-seat stadium. But they were silenced after just five minutes.

The Croats took the lead after England captain David Beckham needlessly conceded a free kick out on the left. Milan Rapaic drove in a curling cross, which struck Ashley Cole at the far post. England 'keeper David James managed to stop the ball from going in with a one handed save but, in a crowded area, Niko Kovac stuck out a foot as John Terry tried to clear. Kovac scored from four meters.

England created some half chances but did little to worry Croatian goalkeeper Tomislav Butina. Sven-Goran Eriksson's team badly needed a goal to get back into the game, and it came five minutes from the break.

Lampard pushed a defense-splitting ball through to Owen, whose shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. The ball flew up to Rooney who headed it over to the far post with Scholes well-placed to turn it home from five meters.

In the final minute of the half, England broke out of defense and, after Owen and Scholes had twice swapped passes, the ball was fed to the unmarked Rooney - 25 meters out. He moved a couple of paces forward before unleashing a powerful, low drive that brushed the fingertips of Butina on its way to the bottom left hand corner.

Scholes came close to scoring again with the second half just four minutes old when Cole and Rooney combined to put him in space, but his 25-meter shot was pushed round the post by Butina.

Owen should have made it 3-1 when he got clear of the defense in the 54th minute and had only Butina to beat. But the Liverpool man, whose form has been poor for most of the season, chipped the ball over the bar with the 'keeper well off his line.

There was a scare for England when substitute Ivica Olic, who was allowed to play by UEFA despite testing positive for a steroid, got clear down the left and his low cross was missed by three of his teammates in front of goal.

But Rooney made sure for England with his second goal in the 68th minute, making it 3-1.

The English pounced on a loose pass from Niko Kovac and Rooney swapped passes with Owen to race clear of the Croatian defense. The teenager kept his cool and placed the ball past Butina for his fourth goal in two games.

The 18-year-old Everton star was taken off to a standing ovation from the English fans with 19 minutes to go before the Croatians hit back with a second goal.

Cole gave away a free kick out on the right and Tudor leapt to head home at the far post.

The English fans started to get nervous but a fourth goal came in the 79th minute when substitute Darius Vassell broke from deep to feed Beckham and the ball was passed on to Lampard to fire a low left footed shot past Butina from the edge of the area.

Lineups:

Croatia - Tomislav Butina; Dario Simic (Darijo Srna, 67th), Robert Kovac (Ivica Mornar, 46th), Boris Zivkovic, Josip Simunic; Niko Kovac, Igor Tudor, Giovanni Rosso, Milan Rapaic (Ivica Olic, 55th) ; Dado Prso, Tomo Sokota.

England - David James; Gary Neville, Sol Campbell, John Terry, Ashley Cole; David Beckham, Frank Lampard (Phil Neville, 84th), Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes (Ledley King, 70th); Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney (Darius Vassell, 72nd).

Referee: Pierluigi Collina, Italy.

BY KRYSTYNA RUDZKI
Associated Press


Posted on Jun 21, 04 | 10:39 pm

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