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Rediff.com  » Sports » Euro 2012 qualifiers: Swiss hold England

Euro 2012 qualifiers: Swiss hold England

June 05, 2011 16:28 IST

Stuttering England were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Switzerland in their Euro 2012 qualifier on Saturday while Russia's stand-in striker Roman Pavlyuchenko grabbed a hat-trick to secure a 3-1 win against Armenia.

Portugal beat Norway 1-0 to move top of Group H level on points with their opponents and Denmark who won 2-0 in Iceland.

England were only spared the indignity of losing top spot in Group G to Montenegro because the team from the tiny Balkan state also had to settle for a home draw, 1-1 against Bulgaria, after conceding their first goal in the group.

A routine 3-1 win over Malta kept Greece top of Group F while Israel stayed in the hunt by beating Latvia for the second time in three months, this time winning 2-1 away.

Pavlyuchenko, who last month criticised Russia coach Dick Advocaat's team selection, was only in the starting lineup after leading scorer Alexander Kerzhakov suffered a knee injury.

Armenia, who had held Russia 0-0 at home, took a shock lead through Brazilian-born striker Marcos Pizzelli in the 25th minute to stun the St Petersburg crowd.

But Pavlyuchenko volleyed Russia level within a minute to steady their nerves, made it 2-1 just before the hour and sealed the points with a 73rd minute penalty.

"Of course, I'm quite happy with the outcome but not how we played," said Advocaat. "We had no margin for error in this match as we could not afford to lose any points. This made us look nervous."

TOP TRIO

Russia are among three teams in the group on 13 points from six matches after Ireland beat Macedonia 2-0 with a Robbie Keane double -- his 50th and 51st goals for his country -- and Slovakia scraped a 1-0 win at home to bottom team Andorra.

Tranquillo Barnetta Defender Miroslav Karhan, Slovakia's most capped player with 103 appearances, volleyed home in the second half to give his side their fourth 1-0 win in the campaign.

At Wembley, Tranquillo Barnetta scored twice against England direct from freekicks in the space of three minutes just after the half hour, helped by woeful goalkeeping from Joe Hart and equally poor defending by the home side.

Frank Lampard pulled one back with a 37th minute penalty, substitute Ashley Young levelled six minutes into the second half and England missed several good chances to win the game.

"I am disappointed we didn't win after being 2-0 up but I will not reprimand the team," said Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld following the first game since the international retirement of record scorer Alexander Frei.

"I was pleased with the result in the end.

England have 11 points from five games, ahead of Montenegro on goal difference, with Switzerland and Bulgaria six points adrift.

SUPERB GOAL

Montenegro, who failed to win a game in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, looked set to go top when Radomir Djalovic volleyed them in front in the 53rd minute in Podgorica but Bulgaria striker Ivelin Popov equalised midway through the second half.

A superbly-taken goal by Helder Postiga, sweeping home Nani's cross with a first-time shot on the turn in the 53rd minute, gave Portugal their third successive win in Group H as they continued their recovery from a poor start.

Portugal, beaten 1-0 by Norway in September, dominated but struggled to break down the visitors' defence with all-time La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo unable to make his mark.

Second-half goals from Lasse Schone and Christian Eriksen gave Denmark a 2-0 win in Iceland to leave them on 10 points with leaders Portugal and third-placed Norway after five games.

Forward Giannis Fetfatzidis, 20, scored twice for Greece and 19-year-old Kyriakos Papadopoulos, making his debut, notched the other to leave them on 14 points from six games, one more than Croatia and Israel who both won their weekend matches 2-1.

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