London: England booked their place in next year`s European Championship with a 2-2 draw in their final Group G match away to Montenegro on Friday although a needless red card for Wayne Rooney ruined the party.
Needing just a point to guarantee top spot in the group, goals by Ashley Young and Darren Bent had Fabio Capello`s side in cruise control after 31 minutes on a rainy night in the Balkans before things became more complicated.
Elsad Zverotic volleyed a reply for the hosts with the final kick of the first half and Andrija Delibasic headed a dramatic last-minute equaliser which guaranteed Montenegro second place and a playoff spot.
Rooney, who had been involved in both England goals, received a straight red card for a petulant kick on Miodrag Dzudovic with a little under 20 minutes remaining and will miss the start of next year`s finals in Poland and Ukraine.
The Manchester United striker, who suffered the second red card of his England career, could even face a three-match ban which would have serious implications for England`s chances of success next year.
England ended undefeated with 18 points with Montenegro on 12. Switzerland, who host Montenegro on Tuesday, can no longer secure a playoff place after defeat in Wales.
"We are a little bit disappointed because we were 2-0 up and ended up drawing the game," captain John Terry told Sky Sports. "But it`s a great feeling to get where we`ve got and we`re top of the group.
"We were really in control and the manager said at halftime it was probably too easy for us.
"Wayne had a bit of a tussle, it was one of those things, but fortunately it did not cost us."
It was all too easy for England early on and it was no surprise when Young gave them the lead after 11 minutes.
Rooney fed Theo Walcott and his inviting cross was tucked away by the unmarked Young.
It was 2-0 when Montenegro lost the ball in midfield and Rooney played in Young who slid a pass across the area for Darren Bent to tap in.
Montenegro had hardly given their fans anything to shout about but they were given hope on the stroke of halftime when Zverotic`s volley deflected in at the near post.
The second half was more even and Montenegro had a couple of penalty appeals waved away in a frantic finish. Ten-man England appeared to have weathered the storm but Delibasic sparked huge celebrations when he headed home Dzudovic`s superb hanging cross from close range.