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Narrow wins for France and Spain

France and Spain recorded 1-0 UEFA European Under-21 Championship wins, while England were rampant.

Runners-up in the 2002 final against the Czech Republic, France have made a winning start in their latest UEFA European Under-21 Championship campaign as they secured a second successive 1-0 win against Slovenia.

Sinama-Pongolle penalty
As against Cyprus last month, Le Havre AC teenager Florent Sinama-Pongolle scored the only goal, this time from a second-half penalty after Bernard Mendy had earlier missed from the spot. The visitors lost Mitja Hojnik to a late red card and slipped below Israel in the Group 1 standings after Moshe Sinai's side opened their programme with a 1-0 win in Malta, Guillermo Israilevich the scorer.

Lucky Spain
It also finished 1-0 in Alabacete where Spain were late, late winners against Group 6 rivals Northern Ireland, a 93rd-minute own goal from Tony Capaldi handing the hosts all three points. Spain coach Armando Ufarte acknowledged it was a "difficult match" but added: "It was a very important win although it came late, and this will give our players a lift for the next matches." Spain are second in the group behind Greece, who drew 1-1 away to Ukraine.

Jeffers scores twice
England made an impressive start in Group 7, as Francis Jeffers struck twice in a 4-0 win in Slovakia. The Arsenal FC striker has now scored nine goals in eleven U21 appearances and also on the scoresheet was Joe Cole, a member of England's senior squad in the summer's FIFA World Cup. The group's other game produced an identical result, as leaders Turkey were 4-0 winners in F.Y.R. Macedonia.

Scandinavians smiling
It was a good night for the Scandinavians in Group 2 as Denmark destroyed Luxembourg 9-0, with Thomas Augustinussen scoring a hat-trick, and Norway won 1-0 away to Ilie Dumitrescu's Romania.

Hat-trick hero
Augustinussen's was not the only hat-trick, as Croatia's Dario Sarna also struck a treble in his country's 3-1 win in Bulgaria. It was Bulgaria's second defeat in Group 8, and Croatia's second win, and followed the second-half dismissal of Bulgarian midfield player Petar Zlatinov with the visitors leading 1-0.

Poland top
Austria sit top of Group 3 after defeating Belarus 1-0, while Poland and Sweden both have maximum points in Group 4. The Poles are ahead on goal difference after Michal Stasiak, Michal Golinski and Mariusz Zganiacz all scored in the 3-0 defeat of Latvia, while the Swedes downed Hungary 1-0.

Scottish success
Former West German international Rainer Bonhof enjoyed a 2-0 success with his Scotland side away to Group 5 rivals Iceland, Sunderland AFC's Kevin Kyle scoring one of the goals after being drafted in from the seniors. Finally, Russia lead Group 10 with a maximum six points after a 3-0 win in Georgia, while second-placed Switzerland were held 0-0 away by Albania.