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World Cup Roundup Estonia win, await Irish

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jay Mwamba

Estonia edged little Andorra 2-1 away to reclaim the leadership in Group 2, ahead of today’s World Cup qualifier in Dublin with Ireland. The former Soviet republic enters Lansdowne Road with six points from three games.

Martin Reim (54th) and Andres Oper (65th) revived the Estonians qualifying hopes for the 2002 finals with their second victory over the Andorrans in six weeks, before 800 fans in Andorra La Vella. Justo Ruiz scored a 90th minute penalty for the bottom-placed home side.

Holland, with two goals by Robbie Keane’s Inter Milan teammate Clarence Seedorf in a late blitz, climbed into second place (4 points) after overwhelming Cyprus 4-0 in Nicosia.

The Dutch were unable to breach the gutsy Cypriot defense until Seedorf’s introduction in the second half. He struck in the 69th and 78th minutes. His ex-Ajax compatriots Marc Overmars (81st) and Patrick Kliuvert (90th) completed the rout in coach Louis Van Gaal’s managerial debut.

In Lisbon, Matt Holland’s stunning equalizer for Ireland in the 1-all draw left Portugal in third place — behind Holland on goal difference — and facing an early crunch match with the Dutch in Rotterdam today. Defeat will set off alarms in the Portuguese squad.

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North held

Northern Ireland were denied full points by Danish forward Dennis Rommedahl in a 1-1 tie with the former European champs in a Group 3 tussle at Windsor Park.

Rommedahl’s strike cancelled out a spectacular effort by Manchester United’s David Healy from 25 yards (38th).

But Sammy McIlroy, the North’s coach, was livid at Rommedahl’s goal.

"Their goal was at least three yards offside. I could not believe the referee allowed it," he said.

Denmark and Northern Ireland go into today’s third round of match second and third, respectively, (both 4 points) in Group 3.

The North are away to Iceland, who were pasted 4-0 by group leaders the Czech Republic (6) in Teplice. Jan Koller (17th, 41st) and Pavel Nedved (44th, 90th) each recorded a brace.

Denmark, meanwhile, host Bulgaria, 3-0 winners over lowly Malta. Georgi Ivanov (39th, 65th) and Svetoslav Todorov (90th) connected in Sofia.

Wembley exit

England manager Kevin Keegan quit in the dressing room after England’s 1-0 loss to archrivals Germany in the last match at the 77-year-old Wembley Stadium before it undergoes a massive face-lift.

"I fall short of what is required in this massive job. This was a disaster for me, losing today," Keegan said, after Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann’s 14th-minute free kick had sent England’s 2002 qualifying hopes into a tailspin.

Germany now lead Group 9 with six points, while England, who visit Finland today, are last in the group. The Finns were dispatched 1-0 by Greece — on Nikos Liberopoulos’ strike (59th) — in Athens at the weekend.

Greece are away to Albania.

Scotts stutter

Two goals in two minutes by Matt Elliott (71st) and Don Hutchison (73rd) saved Scotland blushes in San Marino. The victory was still enough to take the Scots (6) to the top of Group 6, ahead of today’s more hazardous outing in Zagreb against Croatia.

Second-placed Belgium (4) came away from Riga with an impressive 4-0 triumph over Latvia. Marc Wilmot (5th), Bob Peeters (13th), Jurgan Cavens (82nd) and Gert Verheyen (90th) connected.

In Group 5, Wales picked up their first point, courtesy of Nathan Blake (60th) who scored in a 1-all tie with Norway in Cardiff. Thorstein Helstad (80th) canceled out Blake’s strike.

The Welsh tackle group powerhouse Poland, 3-1 victors over Belarus in Lodz, today. Radoslaw Kaluzny’s hat trick (24th, 62nd, 73rd) did the trick. Nikolai Ridnyuk (37th) was the Belarus scorer.

Shevchenko’s brace

Ukraine emerged as contenders in Group 5 with a 3-2 road victory over Armenia in Yerevan on Andriy Shevchenko’s (45th, 59th) brace. Andriy Husin (55th) was the other scorer. Artur Petrosyan (17th, 44th) had both goals for Armenia.

In today’s fixtures, Ukraine play in Norway, while Belarus host Armenia.

Maldini’s record

Paolo Maldini won his record 113th international cap in Italy’s 3-0 romp over Romania in a Group 8 qualifier in Milan. The 32-year-old defender surpassed the 112 appearances made by former Italian manager and goalie Dino Zoff.

Filippo Inzaghi (13th), Marco Delvecchio (17th) and Francesco Totti (42nd) delivered before 54,297 fans in the San Siro to put Italy (4) at the top of the group.

The Azzurri return to action today against second-placed Georgia who thrashed Lithuania 4-0 in Vilnius. Temuri Ketsbaia (18th, 33rd), Georgi Kinkladze (46th) and Archil Arveladze (84th) tallied for the Georgians.

Lithuania play Hungary in Vilnius today.

Surprise package

Slovenia stayed on top of Group 1 with a labored 2-1 decision in Luxembourg. Zlatko Zahovic (39th) and Zeljko Milinovic (41st) tallied for the surprise leaders (4). Jeff Strasser (46th) replied for Luxembourg.

Switzerland routed the Faroe Islands 5-1 in Zurich to remain within a point of Slovenia. Kubilay Tuerkyilmaz’s hat trick of penalties (43rd, 45th, 53rd) were a factor in the Swiss victory.

Marco Zwyssig (26th) and Sebastien Fournier (35th) also scored, while John Petersen (4th) got the Islanders’ face-saver.

Slovack success

Szillard Nemeth (79th) led Slovakia (6) to the top in Group 4 with the only goal of the match against Moldova in Chisinau.

Previous leaders Turkey salvaged a point in Gothenburg, thanks to Tayfur Huvutcu’s 90th minute penalty. Celtic United wonder-boy Henrik Larsson had earlier shot Sweden ahead (68th).

All four teams return to the field today; Turkey away to Azerbaijan, Moldova in Macedonia and Slovakia at home to Sweden.

Spanish delight

Gerard (22nd) and Fernando Hierro (53rd) kept Group 7 leaders Spain three points ahead of Austria via a 2-0 victory over Isr’l in front of 80,000 fans in Madrid.

Austria (3) pipped Liechtenstein 1-0 on Thomas Floegel’s effort (28th).

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