McClaren: It's not over yet
Steve McClaren insists the pressure is all on Russia even though it is England who are facing Euro 2008 oblivion.
Two goals in four minutes from substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko turned last night's Group E qualifier on its head at the Luzhniki Stadium, leaving England begging for a favour from Israel next month.
For, should Russia win in Tel Aviv, they would only have to overcome the part-timers of Andorra in their final game four days later to seal their place at next summer's European Championships, and leave the Football Association scrambling around to give England something else to do during a major tournament for the first time since the 1994 World Cup.
Such a scenario would cost the FA heavily in lost commercial revenue and almost certainly bring McClaren's time in charge to an end.
Yet the England coach remains convinced Russia are the ones who should be feeling the heat as they approach their date with destiny.
'This group is not over yet,' he said.
'It is out of our hands but it is not over. Russia still have to go to Israel and win. The pressure is still on them. We just have to wait.
'As I have said all along, this group is decided over 12 games, not 10 or 11. Let's see where we end up.'
It could be a long wait too for McClaren and his men, who are in the unhappy position of knowing their trip to Austria for a friendly on November 16, 24 hours before Russia tackle Israel, could be the only chance they get to play in one of the countries that will co-host the tournament.
And for that bleak picture, McClaren feels he has identified the cause in Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo and his 'disgraceful' penalty award.
England were in front and, in McClaren's eyes, in control when Cantalejo ruled Wayne Rooney tugged Konstantin Zyryanov's shirt inside the box midway through the second-half.
The foul was clear enough but replays showed it occurred outside the area. Pavlyuchenko levelled from the spot and when the Russian substitute netted again four minutes later, England's dreams were in tatters.
'It is an absolute disgrace,' fumed McClaren, who ignored the fact Rooney was marginally offside when he put England in front with a first-half wonder strike, and also that skipper Steven Gerrard should have doubled the visitors' lead instead of firing Gareth Barry's far-post cross wide from eight yards when completely unmarked.
'We were comfortable and they were running out of ideas. If that penalty had not been awarded, I am absolutely confident we would have won the game. We were in total control.
'I am not blaming anybody but the penalty was given by a referee in a bad position because it was outside the box.
'I don't fault the players, I don't fault their attitude, I don't fault their endeavour and I don't fault what they did in the game.
'Because of one decision, we went from being in a winning position to losing.'
Meanwhile, McClaren has insisted he has no intention of stepping down as England coach after watching his team implode in Russia.
'I'm not even thinking about losing my job - I'm really not,' McClaren told reporters.
'The group is decided after 12 games. Russia have got two to play and we have got one. We are hugely disappointed to lose a football match we were controlling but beyond that, I am not thinking about losing my job.'