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Spain, England keep winning
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 16 - 10 - 2008

Spain, England and the Netherlands maintained their perfect starts in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday to open up big leads in the race for places at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
Portugal's faltering challenge continued with a 0-0 draw at home to 10-man Albania.
David Villa, the leading scorer at this year's European Championship, scored a late winner for Spain in a 2-1 victory at Belgium after the Euro 2008 winners had fallen behind in Brussels after just seven minutes.
After Wesley Sonk had fired the Belgians ahead, Andres Iniesta equalized in the 36th and Spain stretched its unbeaten streak to 27 games.
After four Group 5 victories, coach Vicente del Bosque's team now has a four-point lead over Turkey, which jumped above Belgium into second place after a 0-0 draw in Estonia.
England is off to its best ever start in World Cup qualifying and Wayne Rooney was again England's star, scoring two goals in a 3-1 win at Belarus only days after his two in Saturday's 5-1 victory over Kazakhstan at Wembley.
After victories in Andorra and Croatia, England has a five-point advantage over Ukraine and Croatia in Group 6 going into a six-month break in qualifying.
Helped by two goals for Ivan Rakitic, Croatia outplayed last-place Andorra 4-0 to draw level on seven points with Ukraine, which didn't have a game and next plays at England on April 1.
The Netherlands also holds a five-point advantage in Group 9 in the race for spots at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after beating Norway 1-0.
A minute after Dirk Kuyt had hit the crossbar, Mark van Bommel scored in the 64th minute and the Dutch have nine points from three games. That is five more than its nearest rivals, Scotland and Iceland, which jumped from fifth to third by edging Macedonia 1-0.
Portugal stumbled to a scoreless draw with Albania in Group 1, wasting a chance to go top.
The Albanians had to play the last 50 minutes with 10 men after Admir Teli was shown his second yellow card when his forearm hit Cristiano Ronaldo in the face.
Denmark, which didn't have a game, is level on seven points with Hungary, which jumped from fifth to second after winning 1-0 at Malta. Two points behind are Portugal, Albania and Sweden.
Alberto Aquilani's first two international goals helped World Cup holder Italy stay three points clear at the top of Group 8 by beating Montenegro 2-1 in Lecce. The Italians lead Ireland which edged Cyprus 1-0 in Dublin.
Germany edged Wales 1-0 with a 72nd-minute goal by Piotr Trochowski in Moenchengladbach to open a four-point advantage over Russia and the Welsh in Group 4. Helped by two own-goals and a late strike by Andrei Arshavin, Russia outplayed Finland 3-0.
Slovakia's Stanislav Sestak scored in the 85th and 86th to overturn Poland's lead and win 2-1 at home to jump from third to first in Group 3.
Slovakia now holds a two-point lead over Poland and Slovenia, which lost 1-0 to the Czech Republic.
After taking only one point from its first two games, the Czechs rallied with Libor Sionko's 62nd-minute goal. But they still slipped to fifth place, five behind Slovakia, because Northern Ireland beat San Marino 4-0 and moved above the Czechs on goal difference.
Lithuania edged last-place Faeroe Islands 1-0 to keep the pressure on Group 7 leader Serbia, which both have nine points from four games. The Serbs won 3-1 at Austria.
Greece tumbled 2-1 at home to Switzerland but stayed top of Group 2.
Israel moved to within a point after a 1-1 draw at Latvia and the Swiss moved up to third, two points off the lead. - AP __


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