England looking for their first victory over Romania in 51 YEARS

England’s bizarre bogey team: After shock defeats in 1998 and 2000, the Three Lions look for their first win over Romania in 51 YEARS in Euro 2020 warm-up tonight… and even the U21s have struggled to beat them!

  • England play Romania in their final Euro 2020 warm-up game on Sunday
  • The Three Lions have not beaten the Eastern European country since 1970
  • Kevin Keegan’s side crashed out of Euro 2000 with a 3-2 defeat in the groups
  • The U21 team have also struggled against Romania’s youngsters in recent years
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.

Gareth Southgate will want England’s final Euro 2020 warm-up match to go smoothly. A positive performance, no more injuries and, most importantly, a victory to take into their first group game with Croatia.  

If only we had a better record against Romania, Gareth. It’s been 51 years since the Three Lions were last victorious in this fixture – Geoff Hurst’s goal sealing a 1-0 win in the 1970 World Cup.

Since then, England have managed four draws and three defeats – even the U21 side have struggled in recent years.

Gareth Southgate will want England’s final Euro 2020 warm-up match to go smoothly

Southgate’s side will still be the favourites to come out on top at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Sunday.

Romania’s star player is Rangers’ Ianis Hagi, son of their former captain Gheorghe Hagi, while ex-Tottenham defender Vlad Chiriches and Reading’s George Puscas will also be familiar names to English fans.

Sunday’s fixture may be classed as a friendly, but England and Romania have had some fierce clashes over the last 50 years. Sportsmail takes a look at how the Eastern European nation have become the Three Lions’ unusual bogey team. 

Romania’s star player is Rangers’ Ianis Hagi, son of their former captain Gheorghe Hagi 

Let’s start with a positive – England’s last victory.

Alf Ramsey’s side were defending champions after their triumph in 1966 but faced a tricky group which included eventual winners Brazil and the Czech Republic.

Romania were taking part in their first World Cup since 1938 but Angelo Niculescu’s side performed admirably in all three of their games. 

England was their first group match and Geoff Hurst’s 64th minute goal was all that separated the two sides. Romania went on to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 before a narrow 3-2 defeat by Brazil in their final group game.

Geoff Hurst scored the only goal as England beat Romania 1-0 in the 1970 World Cup

England too were beaten by Brazil, losing 1-0, but Allan Clarke’s goal was enough to see them overcome the Czech’s in the final group match, which ensured their progression to the last 16.

A 3-2 defeat by West Germany in extra-time saw England crash out in the quarter-finals while Brazil and Pele went on to lift the trophy in Mexico. 

Romania would come back stronger when they played England 10 years later.  

1980s World Cup qualifiers

England would face Romania four times in World Cup qualifiers in the 1980s before playing them in a tournament again.

The first meeting came in 1980, with Romania taking revenge for their defeat in Mexico a decade earlier.

Marcel Raducanu opened the scoring in the 35th minute before Tony Woodcock drew England level just after the hour mark. 

But Anghel Iordanescu’s penalty 15 minutes from time gave Romania a shock victory and threatened to dent England’s qualifying hopes.

England could only manage a 0-0 draw in the return match at Wembley in 1981, but Ron Greenwood’s side did mange to progress to the tournament, with Romania missing out by a point. That campaign is best remembered for England’s 2-1 defeat by Norway, where the Scandinavian commentator proudly declared Greenwood’s men had taken ‘one hell of a beating!’ 

England were unable to beat Romania in a series of World Cup qualifiers throughout the 1980s

Romania were drawn in England’s group for the 1986 World Cup qualifiers and again proved to be tricky opponents. 

A 0-0 draw in Bucharest in 1985 was followed up with a 1-1 draw at Wembley. Glenn Hoddle had given England the lead in the 25th minute but Rodion Camataru equalised in the 60th. 

But there would be more heartbreak for Romania as they again missed out on qualification by a single point. England topped the group with four wins and four draws while Northern Ireland finished second.

A 1-1 draw in a friendly in 1994, which saw Rob Lee cancel out Ilie Dumitrescu’s opener, would be the last time the two sides would meet before their clash in the World Cup four years later. 

1998 World Cup

Romania finally ended their 20-year wait for another World Cup appearance by qualifying for Italia 90. After reaching the last 16, they were knocked out by the Republic of Ireland on penalties.

They went one better in the 1994 World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals only to be defeated on penalties again, this time by Sweden. 

But Romania had won many admirers with playmaker Gheorghe Hagi leading what was dubbed their ‘golden generation’. 

England had not qualified for 1994 but a semi-final appearance at Euro 96 had raised expectations for the 1998 World Cup in France. 

The two teams faced each other again during the group stage of the 1998 World Cup

It was the first time since 1970 that England and Romania had been drawn in the same group at a major tournament and the Eastern Europeans were looking to avenge that 1-0 defeat.

Both teams won their opening games, with England beating Tunisia while Romania defeated Colombia, before their clash in the second match.

It was Romania who struck first, Viorel Moldovan capitalising on a Tony Adams slip to power in the opening goal at the start of the second half. 

A young Michael Owen came off the bench to equalise in the 81st minute, the striker pouncing on a loose ball to score his first goal at an international tournament. 

But Owen’s heroics were undone when Dan Petrescu got in behind Graeme Le Saux to push the ball past David Seaman for a 90th minute winner.

Both teams won their final games, meaning Romania topped the group while England came second. Both were then knocked out in the last 16, England losing on penalties against Argentina while Romania were beaten 1-0 by Croatia. 

Romania scored a dramatic 90th minute winner which gave them their first victory over England in a major tournament

The result meant Romania topped the group while England finished second but both teams were knocked out in the last 16

Euro 2000

Here we go again, only this time it’s more painful.

Two years after their meeting in 1998, England were once again drawn in the same group as the Romanians for Euro 2000.

This time they would play each other in the final game, with both needing a result to progress from the group. Kevin Keegan’s side had been beaten 3-2 by Portugal in the opening game but rallied to claim a 1-0 victory over Germany in the following match.

Romania had drawn with Germany and lost against Portugal, meaning they had to win while England only needed a point to finish second.

Things started badly for England when Nigel Martyn was called into the starting XI five minutes before kick-off following an injury to David Seaman. 

It got worse when Romania’s Cristian Chivu opened the scoring in the 20th minute. His cross, intended for Viorel Moldovan, ended up hitting the back post and sneaking into the net, much to the bewilderment of Martyn in the England goal. 

But the Three Lions turned the game around five minutes before half-time. Alan Shearer converted a 40th minute penalty to bring England level after Paul Ince had been fouled. 

Michael Owen put England 2-1 ahead after Alan Shearer had equalised from the penalty spot

Owen then got on the end of a Paul Scholes pass to put England ahead just before the break. 

Their lead didn’t last for long as Dorinel Munteanu brought Romania level in the 48th minute, volleying into the net after Martyn’s punched clearance fell straight to his feet.

A draw would still have been enough for England to progress and they looked to be seeing out the game before Phil Neville brought down Moldovan in the penalty area.

The Romania forward had outpaced the defender on the right wing and Neville, who was playing at left back, made a last-ditch attempt to tackle him.

Like every good defender, the England man pointed to where the ball had gone in attempt to convince the referee he had made a fair challenge. But it was a clear foul and Swiss official Urs Meier correctly pointed to the spot.

Ioan Ganea kept his cool to send Martyn the wrong way and put Romania ahead in the 88th minute. 

Phil Neville brought down Viorel Moldovan to give Romania a penalty in the 88th minute

Ioan Ganea scored the spot-kick to give Romania a 3-2 victory, which knocked England out

England pushed for an equaliser in the closing stages but it was not to be and Keegan’s side were eliminated at the expense of their opponents, who finished second behind Portugal.

A devastated Neville was consoled by Martin Keown and his Manchester United team-mate David Beckham at the full-time whistle.

The defender has previously spoken about the abuse he faced following the end of the tournament.

In 2018, he told BBC 5 Live: ‘I got home and the next six months were probably the most difficult of my career. There was an England flag on my gates on fire. There were England fans outside my gates regularly shouting abuse.

‘It was the most difficult moment in my career dealing with that disappointment and the personal abuse afterwards.’ 

Neville was consoled by his Manchester United team-mate David Beckham and Martin Keown

U21 Euro 2019 

England’s youngsters crashed out at the group stage for the fourth time in five years despite Aidy Boothroyd having an extremely talented group of players.

The squad included the likes of Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Dean Henderson – who are all part of Southgate’s squad for this summer. 

After losing to France in their opening game, England needed to at least draw with Romania to stand a chance of progressing but a crushing 4-2 defeat saw them eliminated.

England had a strong U21 squad in 2019 with Phil Foden among the players at the tournament

Demari Gray and Tammy Abraham had cancelled out goals from Hagi and Puscas but two late strikes from Florinel Coman sealed an emphatic victory.

Nine of Romania’s starting line-up had already made their senior international debuts and Southgate questioned whether Boothroyd’s squad had underestimated their opponents.

‘For me, the biggest reminder was that we must always have humility.

‘We play a country like Romania – I don’t know if we thought we were better – but they had some really good players. They were a good team, they had a stadium full of support. 

‘I didn’t like the fact that our boys came off that and thought they were still the best team in the tournament. That can’t be the case.’

If Boothroyd’s youngsters had looked back at previous results, they’d have seen games against Romania are never straightforward… 

Aidy Boothroyd’s side crashed out at the group stage after a 4-2 defeat in their second game

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