Three more through to Euro 2008

Greece, Romania and the Czechs book their places as Scotland fluff their lines.

Scotland’s keeper hopes that was not his country’s hopes his passing him by [AFP]

The lineup for next year’s European football championship looks a little clearer after the Czech Republic and Romania booked their places for Euro 2008 by beating the already-qualified Germans and Luxembourg respectively.

They will be joined in Switzerland and Austria by the defending champions Greece who defeated fierce rivals and neighbours Turkey.

However Scotland slipped up drastically in their quest to qualify from a tough group including France, Italy and Ukraine by slumping to a 2-0 loss in Georgia.

Elsewhere in a busy night of qualifiers on Wednesday France and Holland took one step closer to the finals with confortable 2-0 wins at home.

Greece were the most surprising European champions ever when they beat the hosts in the final in Portugal four years ago but they will defend their title courtesy of a 79th-minute goal from Ioannis Amanatidis in Istanbul.

The win lifted Greece to 25 points in Group C, seven clear of Turkey with two games remaining.

Norway leapfrogged Turkey into second place with a win in Bosnia and host Turkey next month in a decider for the second qualifying spot.

Czech mate

The momentum will be with the Norwegians Turkey’s defeat piled fresh pressure on the side who have failed to keep up their challenge for top spot after winning their first four matches, including a 4-1 defeat of Greece in the away fixture in March.

Greece get a chance to shock
the world over again [AFP]

Germany had already qualified for the finals on Saturday which may partly explain why they meekly surrendered their unbeaten record being swept aside 3-0 by the Czechs.

German captain Torsten Frings had disappointment written all over his face at the final whistle.

“We didn’t have the right attitude, we were asleep for the first goal after two minutes and it was hard to wake ourselves up after that,” he said.

The Czech coach, Karel Bruckner, had plenty to smile about however as a second minute goal from Libor Sionko set the tempo for the match.

Strikes from Marek Matejovsky and Jaroslav Plasil sealed a convincing win.

Cyprus continued their good form in the group by snatching a 1-1 draw in Ireland, while Wales laboured to a 2-1 in San Marino.

Romania qualified for their first European championship since 2000 with a win in Luxembourg.

The Romanians’ home victory over the Netherlands on Saturday had provided the platform for their qualification and they should still be joined in the Alps by the Dutch next summer after they dispatched Slovenia 2-0, despite a lacklustre performance.

Scottish despair

One of the nights biggest losers were Scotland. Stirring victories over France and Ukraine had put them in a strong position from what had looked the toughest of all groups when the draw was made.

Scotland can still qualify for the final tournament if they beat the World Champions Italy in their final game next month at Hampden Park.

David Siradze and Levan Mjedlidze, a 17-year-old on his debut, scored a goal each for Georgia.

Mjedlidze gave the hosts the lead in the 16th minute, rising above David Weir and Graham Alexander to head home a corner.

Siradze doubled the lead in the 64th by scoring off David Kvirkvelia’s low cross.

Scotland thought theydeserved a penalty in the 36th when James McFadden looked to have been tripped in the area by Giorgi Shashiashvili.

The Scots had more chances late in the game but were unable to break through the Georgian defence.

Elsewhere Portugal boosted their chances of qualifying with two late goals to beat Kazakhstan 2-1 moving them just one point behind Group A leaders Poland.

The Germans should not be too down, they are through as well [AFP]

Source: News Agencies

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