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Thu 7 September 2006

European Championship Qualifying round up

Amongst the wealth of international fixtures played during weeks like this it's almost impossible to find a result that catches the eye. However, last night's offerings have given us a feast of impressive and eye-catching performances that I don’t really know where to start.

Lets try...

Group A
Best performance in this group goes to Finland, who held the World Cup Semi-Finalists Portugal to a 1-1 draw. Finland head the table with Serbia and Belgium.

Group B
The performance of the evening looked like going to Scotland, after their 2-1 victory in Lithuania. Christian Dailly and Kenny Miller put Scotland two up before Darius Miceika pulled one back to add a tense finish to another impressive Scottish display. Scotland lead the table with six points from six, and it’s the turn of the French side to face the rejuvenated Scottish side next.

The French themselves will be buoyant after their 3-1 ‘revenge’ win over world cup champions Italy. Italy have one point from two games – already five points behind Scotland and France.

Group C
Results here seemed to follow the form book, with wins for table-topping Norway, Hungary and Turkey.

Group D
Yet another eye-catching scoreline:

San Marino 0 Germany 13.

Yes 13. Unlucky for some, but lucky for young Lukas Podolski who bagged four goals in this record-breaking UEFA Qualifying Match.

The Czech Republic beat rivals Slovakia 3-0 to sit just behind Germany in the table with six points from six. The Germans just about have the edge in the goal difference column, however…

Group E
Russia 0-0 Croatia suited England in this group - provided they beat Macedonia of course. They did just that, thanks to the athletic Peter Crouch scoring the only goal of the game. The only other point worthy of note was the resurrection of the official ‘Subbuteo’ scoreboard, which I haven't seen since circa 1986. A nice touch.

Israel's 4-1 win over Andorra sees them pick up six points, along with England.

Group F
Performance of the night? The German 13? Scotland's victory? Surely this result has to take the honours this time around:

Northern Ireland 3 Spain 2.

A David Healy hat-trick saw the home side come from behind twice to upset the much fancied Spanish side. Manager Lawrie Sanchez has been the focus of attention since the victory, after throwing his tie and blazer into the crowd. In celebration? Or as a farewell? A recent family bereavement and press criticism after Saturdays defeat to Iceland have fuelled speculation that Sanchez and Northern Ireland may soon be parting ways.

Elsewhwere in the group, Sweden maintained their perfect start with a 3-1 win over Liechtenstein.

Group G
Holland's 3-0 win over Belarus sits them on top of the group, followed by Bulgaria and Romania.

Early days of course, and some of these surprise results only inspire the defeated side to qualify from the group without losing another game - like a Brian Clough style “kick up the backside”.

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