France get back to winning ways

Benzema stars as former champions beat Bosnia
Last Updated : 08 September 2010, 17:22 IST
Last Updated : 08 September 2010, 17:22 IST

Follow Us :


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 in 2012.

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 traditional no-hopers 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. But Russia were stunned in Moscow where Slovakia secured a 1-0 victory, thanks to a first-half goal from Miroslav Stoch.

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 play-off last November. France appeared to be heading for a draw in Sarajevo until Benzema scored with a magical strike after 72 minutes and 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 (11th minute), Daniele De Rossi (22), Antonio Cassano (27), Fabio Quagliarella (80) and Andrea Pirlo (89).

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 stories 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, added the others against the Swiss, who finished with 10 men.

Published 08 September 2010, 17:22 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us