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Scotland stun France, England held

October 08, 2006 12:48 IST

Stunning wins for Scotland and Cyprus and draws for Macedonia and Israel provided the main shocks in the third round of Euro 2008 qualifying games played across the continent on Saturday.

Scotland shocked World Cup finalists France 1-0 at Hampden Park with a second half goal from Gary Caldwell to move clear at the top of Group B after a victory that assistant manager Ally McCoist described as "the greatest in our history."

Scotland's win brought to an end France's European record of 23 successive unbeaten away qualifying matches in either the World Cup or European Championship.

The Scots maintained their own 100 percent start as they followed up victories over the Faroe Islands and Lithuania.

France, who avenged their World Cup final defeat by beating Italy in their last qualifier a month ago, last lost an away qualifying match in either competition on Sept. 9 1992, when they lost 2-0 in Bulgaria.

They had two goals disallowed against the Scots at Hampden but had no response after Caldwell swept home from close range to score the only legal goal of the afternoon.


Cyprus, so often the whipping boys in internationals, scored their greatest victory since they began playing competitive soccer 46 years ago with a 5-2 win over Ireland in Nicosia in Group D.

The result was completely unexpected after Cyprus were routed 6-1 by Slovakia last month and was Ireland's worst competitive defeat for 35 years since Austria beat them 6-0 in Linz in a European qualifier in November 1971.

It was also Cyprus's first competitive victory since a 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands in August last year -- and their first win at home since they beat Malta in November 2002.

Although Ireland scored first and equalised after going 2-1 behind, they were outclassed in the second half as Cyprus scored three times without reply.

Ireland defender Richard Dunne completed a miserable day for his team when he was sent off 12 minutes from time and now misses Wednesday's home match against the Czech Republic. ENGLAND HELD

Macedonia also did well to hold England to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in Group E, while in the same group Russia were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Israel -- who stretched their unbeaten run in World Cup and European qualifiers to 13 matches.

England, who had won their opening two games including a 1-0 victory against Macedonia last month, never got going apart from a rasping, late shot from Steven Gerrard that hit the bar.

Gerrard though, will miss England's game in Croatia on Wednesday after picking up his second booking of the competition.


Cyprus were not the only big winners on a day when the goals flowed.

Slovakia followed up their 6-1 win over Cyprus last month with a 5-1 win over Wales in Cardiff where the only chink of light for the hosts was Gareth Bale becoming their youngest international scorer aged just 17 years 83 days.

The Slovaks were outstanding and ripped the Welsh defence apart with some clinical counter-attacking.

In the same Group D Czech Republic thrashed San Marino 7-0 to move top of the standings with their third straight win, while San Marino have now let in 20 goals in two matches after their 13-0 defeat by Germany last month.

Croatia also slammed in seven without reply in their Group E match against Andorra.

It was the perfect warm-up for Croatia who meet England on Wednesday and Mladen Petric proved himself the man in form with four of the seven.


World champions Italy, who drew their opening qualifier with Lithuania then lost to France in their second, recorded their first win of the competition with a 2-0 win over Ukraine in Rome with both goals coming in the last 19 minutes.

Massimo Oddo put Italy ahead with a 71st minute penalty and Luca Toni wrapped up the points with a superb volley eight minutes later.

Spain meanwhile slumped to their second straight defeat in Group F, going down 2-0 to Sweden in Stockholm where Marcus Allback scored his 27th goal for his country after a brilliant counter-attacking move just seconds after Spain almost equalised at the other end.

European champions Greece also won, following up their 1-0 Group C win over Moldova in their opening match with a 1-0 win over Norway in Athens where Costas Katsouranis scored the only goal in a match delayed for 50 minutes following a downpour before kickoff.


Winger Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal beat Azerbaijan 3-0 in their Euro 2008 Group A qualifier on Saturday.

It was Portugal's first win in two qualifiers following a 1-1 draw in Finland last month. They meet Poland away on Wednesday.

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told RTP television he had not expected the game to be easy, adding "we had to shoot, to experiment, to shoot from outside he area.

"We have a team which knows the routine, which has played together for a long time. Time is helping us," Scolari said.

Ronaldo opened the scoring after 25 minutes when he gave goalkeeper Farhad Veliyev no chance with a shot inside the box from a pass by playmaker Deco.

Defender Ricardo Carvalho doubled the lead when he shot home after Ronaldo's free kick had been parried by Veliyev after half an hour.

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