Managerless England tonight drew 0-0 with Finland in Helsinki as their bad start to the World Cup qualification campaign continued. Although poor refereeing denied them a goal and all three points, England, at times, looked very ordinary. This fixture could not have come at a worse time as the players still looked shocked by Kevin Keegan's sudden resignation and many influential members of the squad were missing for today's clash.
Finland were very lucky to have their keeper Antti Niemi on the field after just five minutes when he pulled down Teddy Sheringham outside his area. However, referee Alain Sars only booked him and gave a free-kick. The other main talking point of the game involved the referee again. This time, he judged that a Ray Parlour strike which hit the crossbar didn't cross the line. However, television replays clearly showed the ball did in fact bounce over the line and back out.
Finland were not without chances of their own but worked hard to keep out England while still creating goal opportunities for themselves. England began the game well but seemed to tire as it went on and the Fins looked more likely to score in the second half until Parlour's goal was disallowed with three minutes remaining.
Afterwards, England's captain on the night, Martin Keown, said: "It shows we could have done with a bit of luck and we did not get it on the night. All credit to the lads. We had a go. It was a great run from Parlour - and he grew as the night went on. think Teddy would have scored had the keeper not taken him out. We thought he might have been sent off but it wasn't to be. It is difficult away from home anywhere. But we passed the ball and looked like the best team out there."
Filed by Amanda Fennelly