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EURO journey takes more twists

Published: Wednesday 12 September 2007, 1.01CET
Which 14 teams will join Austria and Switzerland at UEFA EURO 2008™ next June is far from clear going into tonight's vital round of 22 qualifying matches.
by Paul Saffer
from London
EURO journey takes more twists
Croatia lead Group E ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 12 September 2007, 1.01CET

EURO journey takes more twists

Which 14 teams will join Austria and Switzerland at UEFA EURO 2008™ next June is far from clear going into tonight's vital round of 22 qualifying matches.

UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying will move a step closer to completion when 22 matches are played tonight. updates the state of play in the wake of Saturday's action.

Group A
The top four all met in the only eight-team section and both fixtures were drawn. Leaders Poland came from behind late on in Portugal to make it 2-2 and remain two points ahead of Finland, whose trip to Serbia ended goalless. Third-placed Portugal are two points behind Finland, but one ahead of Serbia, with both teams having a game in hand on the top two. The leading quartet are matched again on Wednesday as Finland play Poland and Serbia go to Portugal while Belgium, not mathematically out of it in fifth, visit Kazakhstan.

Group B
Only one of the top four – Scotland – gained victory as France drew 0-0 in Italy and Ukraine conceded a late equaliser in Georgia. Scotland defeated Lithuania 3-1 and are now within one point of France, who they visit on Wednesday, and the same margin ahead of Italy. Ukraine are four points behind the Azzurri with a game in hand and the two teams now meet in Kiev.

Group C
Greece were not in action but ended Saturday in a stronger position than which they started. Norway, Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina were all five points behind the holders at kick-off but only the Scandinavian nation won, beating Moldova 1-0, and they have played a game more than Greece. Turkey, who had to come from behind twice to draw 2-2 in Malta, have the same number of matches left as Greece and one more than Bosnia-Herzegovina, beaten in Hungary. Norway can leapfrog Greece when the pair play in Oslo on Wednesday while Turkey welcome fifth-placed Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina receive winless Moldova.

Group D
Germany eased to a 2-0 win in Wales and remain three points ahead of the Czech Republic with the best record in qualifying – seven wins and one draw from eight games. Indeed, if Germany win away at the third-placed Republic of Ireland in their next game on 13 October their qualification will be assured. Ireland, however, fell three points adrift of the Czech Republic, who they visit on Wednesday, as Steve Staunton's team were held 2-2 in Slovakia after conceding late on. Slovakia, who retain a mathematical chance, welcome Wales in midweek.

Group E
Croatia are now the outright leaders of the group thanks to a 2-0 defeat of Estonia. Israel had been level with Croatia but lost 3-0 in England. However, things remain very tight. Russia, who like the leaders are unbeaten, are now two points behind Croatia in second following their 3-0 win against F.Y.R. Macedonia, with England and Israel one further back. Israel have played a game more and sit out Wednesday when Russia visit England and Croatia go to point-less Andorra.

Group F
Leaders Sweden were held 0-0 at home by Denmark but that was a useful result as Spain drew in Iceland and Northern Ireland were beaten 1-0 in Latvia. Sweden are three points ahead of Northern Ireland and Spain with Denmark five further back but with a game extra to play. However, Sweden sit out the Wednesday games in which Northern Ireland visit Iceland, Spain encounter Latvia and Denmark play Liechtenstein.

Group G
Romania remain at the summit thanks to their 3-1 win in Belarus, but the Netherlands overtook Bulgaria in second with a 2-0 home victory against the team who were previously unbeaten. The top two remain undefeated but the Netherlands, who have a game in hand, will close the three-point gap if they prevail in Albania in midweek as Romania do not play until the Dutch visit on 13 October. Bulgaria are two points behind the Netherlands and meet bottom team Luxembourg on Wednesday.

Last updated: 12/09/07 21.02CET



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