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Beckham is happy to be with the lads
by Paul Kennedy, June 7th, 2007 7AM

TAGS:  england, european championship, france, germany, italy, mls


"It's been nice to be back with the lads."

David Beckham's words on Sky Sports after England's 3-0 victory at Estonia Wednesday in Euro 2008 qualifying were good news to English fans and bad news to MLS and Los Angeles Galaxy fans.

Beckham set up goals by Peter Crouch and Michael Owen in his first competitive game for England since the 2006 World Cup and his 96th international appearance.

Beckham's promising comeback set the stage for more England appearances late in the summer and into the fall -- just as the Galaxy moves into the stretch drive of the MLS regular season. With England still fourth in Group E, Coach Steve McClaren will be counting upon Beckham to play for England in its five remaining qualifiers. If Beckham was recalled and available for the first four games, he would miss four MLS games -- all at Home Depot Center -- for sure.

Beckham's participation in MLS Cup 2007, if the Galaxy qualified, would be compromised, though. England's final game against current Group E leader Croatia falls on Nov. 22, three days after MLS Cup. The release period for such a match is five days. (England has a bye on Nov. 17.)

For the time being, however, Beckham was relishing a big England win.

"We have scored some goals, played some good football and I think the confidence is coming back," added Beckham after the game in Estonia.

Group A leader Poland, which suffered a shock 1-0 loss at Armenia, and Croatia, which tied Russia, 0-0, were the only group leaders playing on Wednesday that failed to win.

Defending European champion Greece, France, Germany and Romania (co-Group G leader) all moved closer to a place in next year's European Championship finals with wins.

There was a change at the top of Group F, where idle Northern Ireland slipped to third behind Sweden, which beat Iceland 5-0, and Spain, which won 2-0 in Liechtenstein. (Sweden will take a three-point lead over Spain and move five ahead of Northern Ireland if UEFA awards Sweden three points by forfeit following the abandoned 3-3 tie with Denmark on Saturday.)

The top two teams in each group advance to the final, where they will be joined by co-hosts Austria and Switzerland.

Group A
June 6
Kazakhstan 1 (Baltiyev 52) Azerbaijan 1 (Nadirov 30).
Finland 2 (Johansson 27, Eremenko 71) Belgium 0.
Armenia 1 (Mkhitaryan 70) Poland 0.
Standings: Poland 19 points; Serbia, Portugal, Finland 14; Belgium, Armenia 7; Kazakhstan 6; Azerbaijan 5.
Group B
June 6

Faeroe Islands 0 Scotland 2 (Maloney 31, O'Connor 35).
Lithuania 0 Italy 2 (Quagliarella 31, 45).
France 1 (Nasri 35) Georgia 0.
Standings: France 18 points; Italy 16; Scotland 15; Ukraine 12; Lithuania 7; Georgia 6; Faeroe Islands 0.
Group C
June 6
Norway 4 (Iversen 22, Braaten 58, Carew 60, 78) Hungary 0.
Bosnia 1 (Muslimovic 6) Malta 0.
Greece 2 (Charisteas 31, Liberopoulos 90) Moldova 1 (Frunza 80).
Standings: Greece 18 points; Bosnia, Turkey, Norway 13; Hungary 6; Malta 4; Moldova 2.
Group D
June 6
Germany 2 (own goal 10, Hitzlsperger 43) Slovakia 1 (own goal 20).
Standings: Germany 19 points; Czech Republic 14; Ireland 13; Slovakia 9; Wales 7; Cyprus 4; San Marino 0.
Group E
June 6
Estonia 0 England 3 (J.Cole 37, Crouch 54, Michael Owen 62).
Croatia 0 Russia 0.
Andorra 0 Israel 2 (Tamuz 38, Colautti 53).
Standings: Croatia, Israel 17 points; Russia 15; England 14; Macedonia 7; Estonia, Macedonia 0.
Group F
June 6
Sweden 5 (Allback 10, 51, Svensson 42, Mellberg 44, Rosenberg 49) Iceland 0.
Liechtenstein 0 Spain 2 (David Villa 8, 14).
Latvia 0 Denmark 2 (Rommedahl 15, 17).
Standings: Sweden, Spain 15 points; Northern Ireland 13; Denmark 10; Iceland, Liechtenstein 4; Latvia 0.
(Result of June 2 Denmark-Sweden game to be decided by UEFA on Friday.)
Group G
June 6
Bulgaria 2 (Petrov 10, Yankov 40) Belarus 1 (Vasilyuk pen. 5).
Romania 2 (Mutu 40, Contra 67) Slovenia 0.
Luxembourg 0 Albania 3 (Skela 13, Kapllani 36, 72).
Standings: Romania 17 points; Bulgaria 15; Netherlands 14; Albania 9; Belarus 7; Slovenia 4; Luxembourg 0.


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