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Prime contenders hold their nerves

Published: Wednesday 30 March 2005, 0.58CET
Denmark, Portugal, England, Belgium and Croatia all consolidated first place in their groups on Tuesday.
Published: Wednesday 30 March 2005, 0.58CET

Prime contenders hold their nerves

Denmark, Portugal, England, Belgium and Croatia all consolidated first place in their groups on Tuesday.

Denmark, Portugal, England, Belgium and Croatia all consolidated their positions at the top of their UEFA European Under-21 Championship groups, while Israel moved to the summit of Group 4 after a dramatic win over France as rounds up Tuesday’s action.

Group 1
Tuesday’s solitary group game saw the Netherlands held to a goalless draw by lowly Armenia. As a result they remain three points adrift of second-placed Czech Republic and four behind leaders Romania, who the Dutch meet on 3 June.

Group 2
Daniel Agger's late goal in Kiev gave Denmark a 1-0 victory against Ukraine and keeps them five points clear at the top. Second-placed Turkey won 2-0 in Georgia, who are sixth, while Greece overtook Ukraine in third as they triumphed by the same score at home to Albania. Turkey and Greece are separated by three points and meet in a crucial game in June.

Group 3
Hugo Almeida’s second-half strike gave Portugal victory over Slovakia, who missed the chance to overtake second-placed Russia. Portugal are six points clear at the top and remain one of three nations yet to drop a point, while Latvia are now within two points of Russia and Slovakia after coming from behind to defeat Luxembourg 2-1. However, the Russians can go second outright as they visit an Estonia side on Wednesday who have yet to score.

Group 4
Gal Alberman’s header two minutes from time secured a 3-2 win for Israel at home to France and opened up a three-point gap between the two teams at the top of Group 4, though Les Bleus have a game in hand. Switzerland are a further two points behind but with four games left to play, compared to France’s three and Israel’s two, after a 3-0 victory against Cyprus, who can no longer reach the play-offs having failed to score either a point or a goal. Israel will qualify if they win their final two games- away to the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland.

Group 5
Holders Italy were not in action but their perfect record still gives them an eight-point lead. Three points separate the next four teams after Slovenia slipped from second to fourth following a 4-1 home loss to Belarus in third, while Norway replaced them in second after winning 3-1 away against fifth-placed Moldova.

Group 6
With Germany not in action, England were able to move three points ahead at the top by beating Azerbaijan 2-0. Wales could have gone above Poland into third and three points adrift of Germany but lost 2-0 and were reduced to ten men in Austria. The only game in June sees Poland visit Azerbaijan.

Group 7
Belgium remain top after easing to a 4-0 win in San Marino. Serbia and Montenegro, who welcome Belgium on 3 June, are still just a point behind following a crucial 1-0 victory against Spain, increasing the gap between the two nations to four points. Bosnia-Herzegovina are off the mark at the fourth attempt as Lithuania, a point adrift of June opponents Spain, were beaten 2-0.

Group 8
Croatia, like Portugal and Italy, have 15 points from five games, after their latest victory a narrow 1-0 result against Malta. Hungary joined Sweden on nine points as they defeated Bulgaria 1-0.

Last updated: 30/03/05 13.53CET

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