Big guns fire in Euro qualifiers

French get first win in six as Germany, England, Italy and the Dutch all win Euro 2012 qualifiers but Portugal lose.

    Rooney gets some love on the pitch as he shrugs off his personal problems [EPA]

    Late goals from Karim Benzema and Florent Malouda gave France their first win in six competitive matches and kick-started their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign when they beat Bosnia 2-0.

    Traditional powerhouses Italy, Germany, England and World Cup runners-up Netherlands all maintained their perfect starts with the goals flowing as they seek to seal their places in the finals in Poland and Ukraine.

    Italy crushed Faroe Islands 5-0, Germany blasted Azerbaijan, managed by former West Germany's World Cup winner Berti Vogts, 6-1, England won 3-1 in Switzerland and the Dutch saw off Finland 2-1 with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring both their goals.

    Sweden also hit the goal trail with a 6-0 win over San Marino but Portugal, struggling without suspended coach Carlos Queiroz and the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, continued to stumble.

    After drawing 4-4 with Cyprus in their opening qualifier on Friday, Portugal crashed to a 1-0 defeat against Norway in Oslo and they are now second-bottom of Group H ahead of Iceland who were beaten 1-0 by Denmark.

    There was a thriller in Istanbul where Turkey and Belgium traded the lead before the Turks won 3-2 to maintain their perfect start in Group A.

    There were few shocks on the second major night of European Championship qualifiers which brought to a close the first double-header of the campaign following Friday's opening games.

    Russia stunned

    But Russia were stunned in Moscow where Slovakia secured a 1-0 victory thanks to a first-half goal from Miroslav Stoch.

    Qualifying results

    Tuesday September 7

    Group A
     Turkey 3-2 Belgium
     Germany 6-1 Azerbaijan
     Austria 2-0 Kazakhstan

    Group B
     Russia 0-1 Slovakia
     Macedonia 2-2 Armenia
     Ireland 3-1 Andorra

    Group C
     Italy 5-0 Faroe Islands
     Serbia 1-1 Slovenia

    Group D
     Bosnia 0-2 France
     Albania 1-0 Luxembourg

    Group E
     Netherlands 2-1 Finland
     Sweden 6-0 San Marino
     Hungary 2-1 Moldova

    Group F
     Croatia 0-0 Greece
     Malta 0-2 Latvia
     Georgia 0-0 Israel

    Group G
     Switzerland 1-3 England
     Bulgaria 0-1 Montenegro

    Group H
     Denmark 1-0 Iceland
     Norway 1-0 Portugal

    Group I
     Scotland 2-1 Liechtenstein 1
     Czech Republic 0-1 Lithuania

    Liechtenstein also came within seconds of a rare competitive point against Scotland at Hampden Park where they took the lead through skipper Mario Frick early in the second half.

    Scotland, facing one of the worst results in their long international history, salvaged their respect and all three points with a 97th minute winner from Stephen McManus who headed home a corner in the last few seconds of stoppage time.

    One man who has already suffered a damaging home defeat in this campaign is new France coach Laurent Blanc, whose team compounded their World Cup failure with a shocking 1-0 home defeat to Belarus in Group D on Friday.

    They went to Bosnia desperate for their first victory in a competitive match since beating Ireland in the first leg of their World Cup playoff last November.

    France appeared to be heading for a draw in Sarajevo until Benzema – left out of Raymond Domenech's World Cup squad – scored with a magical strike after 72 minutes and Florent Malouda secured the points six minutes later with their
    second goal.

    Former World champions Italy, whose World Cup also ended in a group stage exit like France, struggled to win their opening qualifier in Estonia on Friday but had no problems on Tuesday.

    Five players got on the scoresheet against the Faroe Islands in Florence –  Alberto Gilardino, Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Cassano, Fabio Quagliarella and Andrea Pirlo.

    Germany were also in no mood to show mercy to outclassed opponents and one of their great football heroes Vogts, who is now in charge of Azerbaijan.

    Miroslav Klose scored twice to take his tally to 55 goals for Germany in his 103rd international, while Lukas Podolski showed a welcome return to form as Germany went top of Group A on goal difference ahead of Turkey.

    Excellent England

    England, also seeking redemption after a poor World Cup, followed up last week's 4-0 win over Bulgaria in London with an excellent 3-1 victory over Switzerland in Basle.

    Wayne Rooney, who has had stoires about his private life splashed all over the tabloids in Britain, scored England's opener and his first goal for his country for a year.

    Adam Johnson and Darren Bent, with his first England goal, adding the others against the Swiss who finished with 10 men following the second half dismissal of Stephan Lichsteiner.

    Bulgaria, who lost to England on Friday, were defeated again, going down 1-0 at home to Montenegro with coach Stanimir Stoilov becoming the first coaching casualty of the campaign by resigning immediately after the game.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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