Holland, England, Spain maintain perfect records

April 2nd, 2009 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Fernando Torres Hamburg, April 2 (DPA) England, the Netherlands and Spain maintained their 100-per-cent records to stay well on course for places at the 2010 Football World Cup finals in South Africa.
Spain Wednesday had to come from behind to beat Turkey 2-1 in their Group 5 match, while John Terry scored a late winner for England in their Group six game against Ukraine. In Amsterdam, the Netherlands comfortably beat Macedonia 4-0.

There were good wins for Germany (2-0 in Wales), Greece (2-1 against Denmark) and Slovakia (2-1 in the Czech Republic). The widest win of the night belonged to Poland, who trounced San Marino 10-0.

In Istanbul, Liverpool midfielder Albert Riera hit the winning goal two minutes into injury-time, silencing the crowd in Galatasaray’s packed Ali Sami Yen stadium.

Turkey went ahead in the 27th minute, but Alonso made it 1-1 from the spot in the 65th minute after Ibrahim Uzulmez clearly handled a goalbound Fernando Torres header.

The win sees Spain on 18 points from their six games, while Bosnia-Herzegovina, who beat Belgium 2-1 on the night, are second with 12. The other Group 5 game saw Estonia beat Armenia 1-0.

England took a major step toward the finals through Terry’s 85th-minute winner. Andrey Shevchenko had earlier equalised Peter Crouch’s opening goal for England.

“We were disappointed to concede a goal late on. But we showed great character to come back. We’re in a great position in the group,” Terry said.

England lead Croatia, who beat Andorra 2-0, by five points, each having played half their qualifying games. The other group game saw Belarus travel to Kazakhstan for a 5-1 victory.

The only other team with maximum points, the Dutch, had no problem overcoming Macedonia 4-0 in Group 9, while Scotland are second after beating Iceland 2-1.

Former Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni scored a respectable 1-1 with his Irish side against a 10-man Italian team in Bari in a Group 8 game.

Trapattoni called the win “a greatly emotional game.”

“It was important to show to all that Ireland is a good team,” he said.

Italy top the group with 14 points, while Ireland are second with 12. Bulgaria, who beat Cyprus 2-0, are third with seven points. The other game in the group between Georgia and Montenegro ended in a goalless draw.

In Group 1, Hungary and Denmark registered 3-0 victories against Portuguese and Swedes.

The Danes, who beat Albania, top the group with 13, while Hungary have the same number of points after their win against Malta, but have played a game more.

Greece and Switzerland continued their neck and neck race in Group two. Both have 13 points from six games. Greece beat Israel 2-1 , while Switzerland overcame Moldova 2-0. Latvia, who beat Luxembourg 2-0, are three points behind.

Euzebiusz Smolarek scored four for Poland as they thrashed San Marino 10-0 in Group three, where Slovakia achieved a stunning 2-1 victory in the Czech Republic.

Slovakia are second in the group with 12 points from five matches, one point behind Northern Ireland, who have played two games more and beat Slovenia 1-0. Poland are third with 10 points from their six games.

Germany and Russia are first and second in Group four.

Germany scored a 2-0 victory over Wales in Cardiff, while Russia won 1-0 in Liechtenstein.

Michael Ballack blasted an opening goal for Germany in the 11th minute, and Wales defender Ashley Williams diverted the ball into his net three minutes after the break.

It completed the double over Wales and kept Joachim Loew’s side four points clear of Russia, who were 1-0 winners in Liechtenstein.

“Our aim was to get six points from these two games, and we achieved that,” Loew said.

Franck Ribery scored the winner for France in the 75th minute against Lithuania to keep Les Bleus in the hunt for a place in the finals.

France are second in Group seven, two points behind Serbia. Both have played five games. Austria are fourth after beating Romania 2-1.

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