Substitute Ionel Ganea calmly slotted in an 89th-minute penalty to earn Romania a dramatic victory in a pulsating UEFA EURO 2000 Group A game in Charleroi.
England seemed on course for the draw they needed when Phil Neville clumsily tripped Viorel Moldovan with the finish line in sight. Ganea duly sent stand-in goalkeeper Nigel Martyn the wrong way as Romania leapfrogged England into second in the section, to book a quarter-final meeting with Italy.
England were well on course at the halfway stage, as two goals in four minutes before the interval cancelled out Cristian Chivu's freak 22nd-minute opener, a cross that deceived everyone and went in off the far upright. Yet Dorinel Munteanu equalised soon after the restart and from then on Romania ramped up the pressure until England and Phil Neville finally broke.
The portents had been bad for England from the moment David Season picked up an injury in the warm-up. Replacement Martyn was soon in the thick of it, diving full stretch to beat away Adrian Ilie's well struck free-kick, and then getting a good block in when Dan Petrescu played through Moldovan. England's defence was seriously stretched.
Michael Owen and Sol Campbell both threatened as England came into the game, but no sooner had they done so than they were behind to Chivu's first international goal. He could have had a second after rounding off a storming run by firing over, while Ilie sent a free header straight at Martyn. Before half-time England made them pay for their profligacy.
Four minutes before the break Paul Ince was bundled over by Chivu and Alan Shearer blasted in the penalty. Bogdon Stelea was soon retrieving the ball from his net again after Michael Owen raced onto Paul Scholes' pass and rounded him to score. Munteanu restored parity, crashing in a left-foot volley when Martyn's punch clear went straight to him. Romania were now on the hunt for the goal they now needed.
Ilie, Munteanu, Petrescu and Adrian Mutu all threatened Martyn, and the 74th-minute introduction of Ganea added more zip in the penalty area – Romania did not seem to be missing the suspended Gheorghe Hagi. Nick Barmby went close at the other end though back came Romania as Laurenţiu Roşu was foiled by an excellent block from Martin Keown. England looked to have done enough, but it was not to be.