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France, Italy settle for draws

October 12, 2008 09:31 IST

Spain, Germany [Images] and England [Images] all chalked up victories in their qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup on Saturday while France [Images], finalists two years ago, had to fight back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in Romania.

Holders Italy [Images] dropped their first points in a 0-0 draw with Bulgaria in Sofia but stay top of Group Eight, while Euro 2004 winners Greece earned their third win over modest opposition, beating Moldova 3-0 to lead Group Two with maximum points.

Spain and England also have 100 percent records but France, whose coach Raymond Domenech has been under pressure after a poor Euro 2008 [Images], fell behind to two early goals before drawing 2-2 with Romania in their Group Seven match in Constanta.

Florentin Petre and Dorin Goian had put Romania two up in little more than a quarter of an hour. However, Franck Ribery [Images] pulled one back for France before the interval and playmaker Yoann Gourcuff hit the equaliser in the 69th minute.

Serbia ended Lithuania's surprise run at the top of the group with a 3-0 win in Belgrade, leaving both teams on six points, two more than France, Romania and Austria, who were held 1-1 by a Faroe Islands team collecting their first point.

European champions Spain won 3-0 in Estonia in Group Five, Juanito and Euro 2008 top scorer David Villa [Images], with a penalty, putting the Spanish two up in the first half and defender Carles Puyol rounding off the win midway throught he second period.

Turkey are in second place two points behind the Spaniards after a come-from-behind 2-1 home win over Bosnia.

Lukas Podolski and Michael Ballack [Images] scored for Germany in their 2-1 win over Russia [Images] in Group Four. Andrei Arshavin, one of the outstanding players at Euro 2008, pulled a goal back for the visitors but they could not find an equaliser in Dortmund.

ROONEY DOUBLE

England are in command of Group Six after two goals from Wayne Rooney [Images] helped them crush Kazakhstan 5-1 at Wembley. Fabio Capello's team, two points ahead of Ukraine who were held 0-0 at home by Croatia, have scored 11 goals in their three matches.

It took England nearly an hour, though, to break down a spirited Kazakh team with stand-in captain Rio Ferdinand heading home a corner. England were then gifted an own goal by Alexandr Kuchma before a late strike by substitute Jermain Defoe.

Poland, so nearly suspended by FIFA less than a week ago over government intervention in FA affairs, beat Czech Republic 2-1 to lead Group Three with seven points from three games.

Portugal, among the favourites for the European title in June, were unable to shake off their indifferent form in a 0-0 draw away to Sweden in Group One as they struggle to qualify for the World Cup being hosted by South Africa [Images].

Denmark, who upset Portugal away last month, lead the group by two points from Sweden after a 3-0 home win over Malta with two goals from recalled striker Soren Larsen. Portugal are now three points off the pace in third spot with four points.

Netherlands held on to top spot in Group Nine with six points after a 2-0 win over Iceland in Rotterdam. Scotland, held to a 0-0 draw by Norway in Glasgow, are in second place two points behind the Dutch having played a game more.


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