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Germany, England Out of Euro Soccer

June 21, 2000

ROTTERDAM, England (AP) _ England and its rowdy fans are gone from the European Championships, and defending champion Germany is right there with them.

Germany made a humiliating exit, with a performance that cost coach Erich Ribbeck his job and ended the long career of defender Lothar Matthaeus.

Romania did security forces at Euro 2000 a favor by ousting England 3-2 on Tuesday in a game in which England’s notorious fans were on good behavior. The team had been threatened with expulsion if the violence persisted.

Portugal’s reserve team brought Germany’s reign to an end with a 3-0 humiliation that had German fans jeering their players.

Matthaeus made his world record 150th appearance but finished at a new low, slow and out of position. Ribbeck resigned Wednesday, admitting he had not done the job.

``I draw the conclusions from our catastrophic campaigns and I clear the way for a successor,″ Ribbeck said. ``I failed to turn Germany’s best players into a competitive team.″

In 24 international games, Ribbeck won 10 games, tied six and lost eight _ the worst record compiled by any German coach.

England, whose fans disgraced their team and their nation by rioting in Brussels and Charleroi, needed just a point against Romania to make it to the quarterfinals.

Kevin Keegan’s team led 2-1 early in the second half after coming from behind. But goalkeeper Nigel Martyn, a last-minute replacement for David Seaman, who injured his left leg in the warmup, gave away a tying goal with a needless punchout. Substitute Ioan Ganea fired home a penalty kick with two minutes left to give Romania the win.

That put the Romanians into the last eight along with Group A winner Portugal and avoided European soccer’s ruling body from having to act on its warning to expel England.

The English fans behaved well, perhaps because they expected to go to Brussels for a quarterfinal showdown with Italy. Instead, the Romanians go to Brussels.

``I am devastated,″ Keegan said. ``We did not play well enough, but with five minutes to go I thought we could hang on to something. But it was not to be.

``We’ve spent three matches chasing the football. We got into a position of being 2-1 up, but we never played as well as we can. We have to ask if we can pass it better and control a game. The answer in this tournament is, sadly, we couldn’t.″

Romanian coach Emerich Jenei said the absence of Gheorghe Hagi, who is retiring from international soccer after Euro 2000, inspired his players.

``Because Hagi was absent, they tried to make up for it,″ the coach said. ``We showed today we are a good team. The penalty was not a penalty, it was a present.″

The Portuguese, who rested nine of their regulars, strolled to a comfortable win. Portugal recorded the first hat trick of the championship by a player who had been seething on the bench, Sergio Conceicao.

``People said we could not repeat the form we showed against England,″ he said. ``But we showed we have a great team.″

Portugal’s elation after wins over England, Romania and Germany contrasted with the mood of Ribbeck.

``There was no fighting spirit, so it was there for all to see what happened,″ he said.

The final positions in the remaining two groups were to be decided Wednesday.

Tied at the top of Group D are World Cup champion France and co-host the Netherlands. They meet in Amsterdam.

Group C is still wide open, with all four teams having a chance of making the quarters.

Group leader Yugoslavia, which has four points, meets Spain in Bruges, Belgium, with the Spaniards one point behind. Norway, which also has three points, faces Slovenia (one point) in Arnhem.

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