Night of upsets in Euro qualifiers - Taipei Times
Mon, Mar 31, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Night of upsets in Euro qualifiers

BEAUTIFUL GAME Lithuania held Germany to a tie, Russia lost 3-1 to Albania and Wales looks like making it to the finals for the first time since 1976


Spain's Ruben Baraja, center, is challenged by Andriy Husin, left, and Olexander Gorshkov of Ukraine during their 2004 European Championship Group Six qualifying match at the Olympic stadium in Kiev on Saturday.


World Cup runner up Germany was held 1-1 at home by Lithuania in the big surprise of Saturday's Euro 2004 qualifying games.

Although Carsten Ramelow put the three-time winner and two-time runner up ahead after just seven minutes, Lithuania hit back to earn an expected point through Tomas Razanauskas' reply in the 73rd minute.

The result meant that Rudi Voeller's team lost top place in Group 5 to Berti Vogts' Scotland, who downed Iceland 2-1 at Hampden Park.

Defending champion France crushed Malta 6-0 to move eight points clear in its group and looks like winning the race to be first qualifier for next year's finals in Portugal.

Italy, runner up in 2000, improved its qualifying hopes with a 2-0 victory over Finland while, in the top game of the night, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic tied 1-1.

England gained vital points but few friends after an unimpressive 2-0 beating of soccer minnow Liechtenstein on Saturday.

Swiss police reported that 25 England fans were arrested and five injured after violence broke out in Zurich the night before the game. Police reacted after the fans threw bottles and stones at them.

Before a sellout 3,500 fans in the Liechtenstein capital Vaduz, Michael Owen headed the first and David Beckham struck home a trademark free kick.

But Sven-Goran Eriksson's team missed more chances and went close to conceding goals in the last few minutes against one of soccer's weakest teams, which has just one victory in 40 competitive matches.

By contrast Ryan Giggs scored one and set up two as freescoring Wales stayed top of its group with a 4-0 beating of Azerbaijan.

Russia was upset 3-1 by Albania, Spain was held 2-2 by Ukraine thanks to a last-minute equalizer and Denmark scored a 5-2 victory at Romania whose coach, Anghel Iordanescu, quit.

Results at a glance

* Cyprus 1, Israel 1

* France 6, Malta 0

* Bosnia-Herz. 2, Lux. 0

* Romania 2, Denmark 5

* Belarus 2, Moldova 1

* Netherlands 1, Czech Rep. 1

* Poland 0, Hungary 0

* Germany 1, Lithuania 1

* Scotland 2, Iceland 1

* Armenia 1, N. Ireland 0

* Ukraine 2, Spain 2

* Macedonia 0, Slovakia 2

* Liechtenstein 0, England 2

* Croatia 4, Belgium 0

* Italy 2, Finland 0

* Wales 4, Azerbaijan 0

* Albania 3, Russia 1

* Georgia 1, Ireland 2

There was crowd trouble at Georgia's 2-1 home loss to Ireland in Tbilisi where home fans threw an open penknife and a bottle onto the field.

Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane each scored twice in Lens as France made it four wins from four games at the top of Group 1. Sylvain Wiltord and David Trez-eguet added the other goals as the French moved eight points clear of Israel and Cyprus who tied 1-1 at Limmasol.

Manchester United star Giggs inspired Wales to a fourth Group 9 win in a row as Mark Hughes' team moved closer to its first European Championship appearance since 1976.

Giggs set up a goal after just 13 seconds for Newcastle's Craig Bellamy, provided a cross for John Hartson's third just before half time and then ran clear of the Azerbaijan defense for the fourth in the 52nd. Gary Speed netted the second in the 40th.

Returning to the Italian lineup for the first time in nine months, Francesco Totti set up two goals for Christian Vieri in a 2-0 win over the Finns at Palermo to climb to second and stay five points behind the Welsh.

The Italians jumped above the Serbs who aren't playing in the latest round of games.

Ruud van Nistelrooy became the third Manchester United player -- as well as Beckham and Giggs -- to score Saturday when he put the Dutch ahead just before half time against the Czechs in Rotterdam.

But Borussia Dortmund's towering striker, Jan Koller, levelled in the 67th minute and the two teams are tied on seven points at the top of Group 3 above Austria who didn't have a game.

Spain was on the brink of going four points clear at the top of Group 6 until Oleksandr Horoshkov volleyed a last minute equalizer for Ukraine in Kiev.

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