England and Germany joined Portugal in the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs on Friday, leaving 13 berths to fill. The top two from the eight groups enter the November deciders, and three places could be claimed on Tuesday.
The two games in this pool took place on Saturday instead of Friday, and the Netherlands went top by winning 3-1 in Armenia while Romania drew 0-0 with the Czech Republic. The Netherlands are one and two points ahead of Romania and the Czechs respectively, with the Dutch having two games left, Romania one and the Czechs three. Only the latter play in midweek, with the Czechs able to go top by defeating Armenia on Wednesday and Finland taking on F.Y.R. Macedonia the previous day. On 7 October the Netherlands visit the Czech Republic and Romania go to Finland.
Turkey kept the pool open on Friday with a 3-2 home win against leaders Denmark, as Ukraine prevailed 3-0 in Georgia and Albania defeated Kazakhstan 3-1. However, Denmark have a game in hand and lead Ukraine by three points and Turkey five. If Denmark defeat Georgia on Tuesday they are through. Turkey must win in Ukraine to remain in contention, with Greece also needing to prevail in Kazakhstan.
Portugal, with a perfect record, were already through before they overcame Luxembourg 4-0 to move eight points clear of Russia, who have a game in hand. Latvia's 3-1 win in Estonia kept their narrow hopes alive, but on Tuesday they must overcome Slovakia and hope Russia lose to Portugal, who need only a point to clinch first place. If Russia win and third-placed Slovakia lose, both play-off places will be filled.
Leaders Israel could have progressed with victory in Switzerland, but in their final fixture drew 0-0. The other contenders have three games left, and France, the Swiss and the Republic of Ireland are five, six and eleven points behind respectively. On Tuesday, the Irish must defeat the French to stay in contention, while the Swiss go to point-less Cyprus.
Holders Italy were held 2-2 in Scotland but that has been changed to a 3-0 victory after the Scots fielded an ineligible player. Italy are therefore seven points ahead of Norway, whose game finished 2-2 in Slovenia while Belarus lost 1-0 in Moldova. Italy need only draw in Belarus on Tuesday to enter the play-offs, while a win would guarantee first place. In second place, Norway, two points ahead of Belarus and Slovenia, play at home against Scotland. Moldova and Slovenia meet on Wednesday.
England and Germany overcame Wales and Azerbaijan respectively, and with Poland and Austria drawing the top two are now confirmed. Their game in Mainz on Tuesday now has first place at stake, with the teams level on points having drawn 2-2 in England. The same day, Poland play Wales and Austria visit Azerbaijan.
Serbia and Montenegro, 2004 runners-up, moved from third to first as Milan Purović's hat-trick earned a 3-2 win against Lithuania and Belgium were held 1-1 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The leaders are a point ahead of Belgium, with Spain a further point behind. Spain welcome Serbia and Montenegro on Tuesday in a vital tie, while Belgium play point-less San Marino and Lithuania encounter Bosnia-Herzegovina.
All the three main contenders won on Friday: Croatia 2-1 in Iceland, Sweden 2-0 against Bulgaria and Hungary by the same score versus Malta. Croatia thereby maintained their three-point advantage over Sweden and Hungary, with the other trio out. On Tuesday, along with Iceland's trip to Bulgaria, Croatia visit Malta. Hungary and Sweden meet on Wednesday.
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