Fri, Nov 17, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Cyprus holds Germany to a 1-1 draw in Nicosia

HONORS EVEN The Cypriots made a mockery of the FIFA world rankings but a point was enough for the Germans to move to the top of their Euro 2008 qualifying group

AFP , PARIS

Germany striker Miroslav Klose, center, is marked by Cyprus defender Lambros Lambrou, right, during their Group D Euro 2008 qualification soccer game in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Cyprus produced the landmark performance of Wednesday's batch of Euro 2008 qualifiers when the Mediterranean minnows held mighty Germany to a 1-1 draw in Nicosia.

Captain Michael Ballack gave Germany the lead in the 15th minute but Cyprus, a yawning 73 places below them on FIFA's world rankings, fought back courageously with Yiannakis Okkas' first-time volley from the edge of the area just before the break earning them a deserved share of the spoils.

Despite squandering a forecast three points Germany at least left Cyprus with the consolation of moving top of Group D ahead of the Czech Republic on goal difference.

Cyprus are fourth, with the Republic of Ireland, who bade farewell to their creaking stadium at Lansdowne Road, fifth following a 5-0 rout of San Marino.

Germany coach Joachim Low accepted the result was not what he had expected.

"It's obvious we are not pleased. This was a tough and at times physical game. We were mentally and physically tired ... but we won't ponder too much on why we failed here, this is only one negative result in a successful year," he said.

However, he did concede that it was a "fair result" and warned the other teams in the group it will be "difficult playing in Nicosia."

Cyprus manager Angelos Anastasiades cut an altogether happier figure, this draw coming after his side's 5-2 mauling of Ireland in their last game on home turf.

"It's a satisfactory result considering who we were playing, they are a bigger and better team and three times world champions," he said.

"We were equal to the Germans for 70 minutes but we began to tire towards the end but they could only threaten us with crosses," he said.

In Dublin Ireland cruised past San Marino courtesy of a Robbie Keane hat-trick, with Andy Reid and Kevin Doyle also getting on the scoresheet.

Despite the lop-sided scoreline and Keane's heroics, it was still a drab end for a drab stadium which is due to be knocked down early next year and replaced with the sort of modern 50,000-seater arena Irish football so desperately needs.

"Obviously we'll need to be more clinical against better teams," Ireland manager Steve Staunton said.

In Group E England slipped a place to third as a result of Russia's 2-0 win over Macedonia.

Croatia pulled clear at the top with a 4-3 win over Israel in Tel Aviv.

In Group A Finland went a point clear of Serbia after a 1-0 win over Armenia, with Portugal placed third after seeing off Kazakhstan 3-0.

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