Fri, Sep 08, 2006 - Page 23 News List

French avenge Cup defeat with 3-1 win

WORLD CUP PAYBACK Raymond Domenech's men exacted revenge for their final loss in Berlin two months ago by beating Italy in the Stade de France

AFP , PARIS

Kuwait striker Bader Al Mutawa, right, shoots to score his team's second goal in the Asian Cup qualifier against Australia at the Kuwait Club, Keifan, Kuwait City on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

France gained a small measure of revenge for their World Cup final defeat by beating Italy 3-1 in Paris in the heavyweight clash of the Euro 2008 qualifiers on Wednesday.

But it was Germany who made most heads turn, recording the biggest ever victory on their travels with a 13-0 demolition of hapless San Marino.

The shock of the night came in Belfast as Northern Ireland bounced back from a dismal 3-0 defeat at home to Iceland on Saturday to stun Spain 3-2 echoing memories of their glory night in the 1982 World Cup finals when they beat the Spanish hosts 1-0.

England continued their steady progress under new coach Steve McClaren with a 1-0 win at Macedonia and Netherlands showed a marked improvement in dismissing Belarus 3-0 at home.

Want-away Lyon forward Sidney Govou got France off to a dream start despite not having played for his club side this season, volleying home a William Gallas cross in the second minute.

France were full of swagger and penetration but luck was on their side as Gallas was clearly offside in the build up to the goal.

Still, it was only a matter of time before they doubled their lead and luck again played a part as Arsenal talisman Thierry Henry's shot was deflected off Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro to leave Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon wrong-footed and grasping at thin air.

However, only two minutes later, Italy were back in it as AC Milan's Andrea Pirlo sent over a teasing free-kick for club team-mate Antonio Gilardino to escape the attentions of five French defenders and head home.

Govou it was who sealed the victory, though, with a headed goal from Bayern Munich full-back Willy Sagnol's cross in the second half.

For Italy, under new coach Roberto Donadoni, it leaves them with just one point after two matches, having drawn 1-1 at home to Lithuania on Saturday, while France have a maximum six points from their two games -- as do group B's surprise early leaders Scotland who beat Lithuania 2-1.

Munich's Lukas Podolski was the star of the show as Germany rattled home 13 unanswered goals in San Marino, four coming from the World Cup's young player of the tournament.

His strike partner Miroslav Klose, of Werder Bremen, bagged a brace, as did Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Hitzelsperger as Germany surged to the top of group D with two wins from two and a mammoth goal difference of plus 14.

Northern Ireland rose from the depths of an embarrassing thumping at home to Iceland in their previous match to earn a stunning win at home to Spain, thanks to a hat-trick from David Healy.

Spain twice took the lead through Xavi and David Villa but the plucky Irish kept fighting and led Spanish coach Luis Aragones to question whether he would be in a job for much longer.

By contrast there was no such questioning by victorious manager Lawrie Sanchez, who simply refused to come out and answer any as he was still seething at the treatment he received after their opening defeat.

McClaren praised his side after they came through a potentially tricky group E tie in Skopje, winning courtesy of a Peter Crouch goal and surviving a couple of late scares.

Two goals from Arsenal forward Robin van Persie and one for Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt eased the Netherlands to markedly improved performance and result from their opening 1-0 laboured victory over Luxembourg.

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