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Portugal's hopes fading fast
by Paul Kennedy, March 30th, 2009 7AM

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[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING-EUROPE] Portugal's hopes of making the 2010 World Cup in South Africa are beginning to fade after another disappointing showing. It wasted a host of chances and had to settle for a 0-0 tie with Sweden that left it in third place in Group 1, four points behind leader Denmark, which has a game in hand.

Poor finishing again plagued Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates. Portugal's best chance came when Duda's cross from the left wing hit the post late in the first half.

"We're frustrated after so much effort and a good display," said Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz. "Unfortunately, soccer is not for those who deserve it but for those who win. It's not over, though we have to admit we are in a more difficult situation."

Elsewhere ...

-- Spain extended its record in Group 5 to five wins in five games and its unbeaten streak to 30 games with a 1-0 win over Turkey in Madrid. Defender Gerard Pique, playing only his second match for Spain, scored on a scramble from close range. In a rare back-to-back series, Spain and Turkey meet again Wednesday in Istanbul.

-- Unbeaten Germany got goals from captain Michael Ballack and Daniel Jansen in the first nine minutes and cruised to a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein in Leipzig's Zentralstadion. The victory kept it four points ahead of second-place Russia in Group 4.

-- Headed goals from Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie in the first half exposed Scotland's defense depleted by injuries and helped the Netherlands to a 3-0 win in Amsterdam that kept the Oranje perfect with four wins in four games.

-- Former U.S. U-17 Neven Subotic came on in the second half for Group 7 leader Serbia, which earned a 3-2 win over Romania in Constanta, handing the Romanians their first loss ever in the Black Sea resort town.

-- France got a much-needed win with a 1-0 victory at Lithuania. Yoann Gourcuff, the rising star of French soccer, fed Franck Ribery for the Bleus' goal. With Serbia's win, the French still trail the group leader by five points though they have a game in hand.

-- Northern Ireland's 3-2 win over Poland made it the surprise leader in Group 3. A horrendous blunder by Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc gifted the Irish their third goal in Belfast. He tried to boot a backpass from Michal Zewlakow but missed and the ball rolled past him for an own goal.

-- An own goal in Dublin forced Ireland to settle for a 1-1 tie with Bulgaria and cost it a share of the lead with Italy, a 2-0 winner at Montenegro, in Group 8. Late in the game with the Bulgarians piling on the pressure, Kevin Kilbane put the ball into his own goal trying to knock away Stiliyan Petrov's volley.

-- Teenager Ben Sahar was outstanding for Israel, but it had to settle for a 1-1 with Greece in Tel Aviv. Switzerland moved into a share of the Group 2 lead with Greece, while Israel dropped to third place a point behind.

Group 1
Malta 0 Denmark 3 (Larsen 12, 23, Nordstrand 88)
Albania 0 Hungary 1 (Torghelle 38)
Portugal 0 Sweden 0
Standings:
Denmark 4 3 1 0 9 2 10
Hungary 5 3 1 1 5 2 10
Portugal 5 1 3 1 6 3 6
Sweden 4 1 3 0 2 1 6
Albania 6 1 3 2 3 3 6
Malta 6 0 1 5 0 14 1

Group 2
Moldova 0 Switzerland 2 (Frei 32, Fernandes 90)
Israel 1 (Golan 55) Greece 1 (Gekas 42)
Luxembourg 0 Latvia 4 (Karlsons 25, Cauna 48, Visnjakovs 71, Pereplotkins 86)
Standings:
Greece 5 3 1 1 10 3 10
Switzerland 5 3 1 1 9 6 10
Israel 5 2 3 0 9 6 9
Latvia 5 2 1 2 8 6 7
Luxembourg 5 1 1 3 3 11 4
Moldova 5 0 1 4 2 9 1

Group 3
Northern Ireland 3 (Feeney 10, Evans 47, own goal 61) Poland 2 (Jelen 27, Saganowski 90+1)
Slovenia 0 Czech Republic 0.
Standings:
Northern Ireland 6 3 1 2 11 6 10
Slovakia 4 3 0 1 8 5 9
Czech Republic 5 2 2 1 5 2 8
Slovenia 5 2 2 1 5 3 8
Poland 5 2 1 2 8 7 7
San Marino 5 0 0 5 1 15 0

Group 4
Russia 2 (Pavlyuchenko 32, Zyryanov 71) Azerbaijan 0
Germany 4 (Ballack 4, Jansen 9, Schweinsteiger 48, Podolski 50) Liechtenstein 0
Wales 0 Finland 2 (Johansson 42, Kuqi 90+2)
Standings:
Germany 5 4 1 0 16 4 13
Russia 4 3 0 1 8 3 9
Finland 4 2 1 1 6 6 7
Wales 5 2 0 3 4 5 6
Azerbaijan 4 0 1 3 0 4 1
Liechtenstein 4 0 1 3 0 12 1

Group 5
Armenia 2 (Mkhitaryan 32, Kazaryan 88) Estonia 2 (Vassiljev 35, Zenjov 67).
Belgium 2 (Dembele 65, Sonck pen. 89) Bosnia-Herzegovina 4 (Dzeko 7, Jahic 75, Bajramovic 81, Misimovic 86).
Spain 1 (Pique 60) Turkey 0.
Standings:
Spain 5 5 0 0 11 1 15
Bosnia 5 3 0 2 16 6 9
Turkey 5 2 2 1 5 3 8
Belgium 5 2 1 2 9 9 7
Estonia 5 0 2 3 4 15 2
Armenia 5 0 1 4 3 14 1

Group 7
Romania 2 (Marica 50, Stoica 74) Serbia 3 (Jovanovic 18, own goal 44, Ivanovic 59)
Lithuania 0 France 1 (Ribery 67)
Standings:
Serbia 5 4 0 1 12 5 12
Lithuania 5 3 0 2 6 4 9
France 4 2 1 1 6 6 7
Austria 4 1 1 2 5 7 4
Romania 4 1 1 2 5 8 4
Faroe Islands 4 0 1 3 1 5 1

Group 8
Cyprus 2 (Konstantinou 33, Christofi 56) Georgia 1 (Kobiashvili 71-pen)
Montenegro 0 Italy 2 (Pirlo pen. 11, Pazzini 74)
Ireland 1 (Dunne 1) Bulgaria 1 (own goal 74)
Standings:
Italy 5 4 1 0 8 2 13
Ireland 5 3 2 0 6 3 11
Bulgaria 4 0 4 0 3 3 4
Cyprus 4 1 1 2 4 5 4
Montenegro 4 0 2 2 3 6 2
Georgia 6 0 2 4 4 9 2

Group 9
Netherlands 3 (Huntelaar 30, van Persie 45+2, Kuyt pen. 77) Scotland 0.
Standings:
Netherlands 4 4 0 0 8 1 12
Iceland 4 1 1 2 4 6 4
Scotland 4 1 1 2 2 5 4
Macedonia 3 1 0 2 2 3 3
Norway 3 0 2 1 2 3 2

 



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