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WINNERS & LOSERS: Euro 2008 Qualifying
by Paul Kennedy, September 10th, 2007 7AM



Winner. Steve McClaren earned the biggest win of his short career as England coach when his injury-riddled team beat Israel, 3-0, to remain in contention for one of the two top spots in Group E. England moved into third place in Group E, tied with Israel. It still trails Croatia by three points and Russia by one. Croatia and Russia were both winners on Saturday. "Israel have proved to be a difficult side to break down," said McClaren afterward," but today we beat them easily with a good performance and three goals."

Loser. Portugal keeper Ricardo's blunder cost Portugal two points, earning Poland a 2-2 draw in a Euro 2008 Group A qualifier on Saturday. Ricardo failed to hold a long-range shot from Krzysztof Lagiewka and it bounced off the post and his back into the net. The tie left the Euro 2004 runners-up in third place, four points behind leader Poland and two behind second-place Finland.

Winner. Ruud van Nistelrooy scored in the Netherlands' 2-0 win over Bulgaria in Group G, his first competitive match with the Oranje since the 2006 World Cup. Van Nistelrooy's insurance goal in the 58th minute followed a a free-kick goal by Wesley Sneijder in the 23rd minute.

Loser. Italian fans jeered the French national anthem being played before the Italy-France showdown, which ended in a 0-0 tie in Milan. French soccer federation president Jean Pierre Escalettes called in the incident a "very ugly moment." "I was really ashamed," said AC Milan defender Massimo Oddo said. "I have played lots of matches abroad and I have never heard the Italian anthem booed."

Winner. Miroslav Klose scored goals at the beginning of each half to give Germany a 2-0 victory over Wales in their Group D qualifier on Saturday. Germany, which is idle on Wednesday, has a five-point lead in the second-place Czech Republic and eight-point lead on third-place Ireland, the largest such leads of any of the seven group leaders.


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