Eriksson crestfallen as England crash out

July 1, 2006

Sven-Goran Eriksson admitted it was 'just not good enough' after his five-year reign as England manager came to an end with his team succumbing to their penalty jinx once more and exiting the World Cup in cruel fashion at the quarter final stage.

Steven Gerrard
GettyImages / CliveMasonRicardo saves Steven Gerrard's spot-kick

Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher all missed penalties in a dramatic shoot-out and then watched Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo score the crucial spot-kick which saw Portugal into their first World Cup semi-final.

It all came after Wayne Rooney had been given the red card after 62 minutes following a tangle which ended with him stamping on the groin of Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho.

Eriksson, however, did not hide behind the dismissal for the defeat even though his 10 men almost pulled off a valiant victory.

'I don't think we can complain about the red card from what I saw on the TV,' he said. 'Maybe we should have had a free-kick when there was a tangle but it went on and on and the referee was there.'

He insisted England had blown the chance of reaching a World Cup final he believed was there for the taking.

'I don't feel relieved, I feel sad and a bit angry because we should be in the tournament. But we are not and we can't blame the referee or somebody else.

'I'm sorry for the team, the squad and the fans who were fantastic. They deserve to have a team in the semi-final or the final.

'The quarter finals four years and two years ago was OK. This time it is not good enough. These players should at least have been in the final. It's more our fault rather than the force of Portugal.'

The Swede also lamented England's wretched record in penalty shoot-outs

He said: 'Losing again on penalties, it's not good enough to miss three penalties. We have trained so much, but here we are once again.

'They showed a lot of character and everything went according to plan. We took over in the second half and started to control the game and make chances.

'We planned to bring Peter Crouch on for the last 25 minutes to try to win the game and that would have gone on with 11. Unfortunately that plan couldn't work any more.

'The team with 10 also played very well but it cost a lot of energy.'

Eriksson revealed captain David Beckham, who was seen in tears in the dugout after being replaced by Aaron Lennon, had received a knee injury in the first half. It was treated at half-time but 'he was suffering too much' and had to come off.

The manager also admitted it would be a difficult memory to carry.

He added: 'To get over this will take a long time. I was convinced we had a team who could reach the final.

'Four years ago we reached a quarter final and that was a good result but this time it is not good enough. We should be in the final. The quality of the squad is that good.'

Ironically, Owen Hargreaves. the midfield man who has taken so much flak under Eriksson, was the man of the match, the only England player to score in the shoot-out, and England fans chanted: `There's only one Owen Hargreaves.'

Even so he struggled to hide his disappointment.

He said: 'It's not about individuals. We were so close and it's a shame. I've rarely been in a dressing room so quiet. Football is a tough sport. We were so close, we could have won the game.

'I was convinced we would win on penalties. We hit the target and that's all you can do. It was a shame it had to be decided on penalties. Shame we couldn't have decided it early on.

'Penalties can go either way. It's not about talent.'