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Germany stays perfect
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 28 - 03 - 2011

LONDON: Germany continued its perfect record in 2012 European Championship qualifying with a routine 4-0 victory over Kazakhstan, while England regained the lead in its group with a 2-0 win at Wales on Saturday.
While Miroslav Klose and Thomas Mueller each scored twice to give Euro 2008 runner-up Germany a fifth straight qualifying win, Frank Lampard and Darren Bent struck early as England bounced back from a disappointing draw with Montenegro in its last competitive match.
Elsewhere in the day's 13 qualifying matches, things were less straightforward for the more favored sides. Group F leader Croatia conceded a last-minute goal to lose 1-0 in Georgia, and former European champion Greece needed a goal deep in injury time to win 1-0 at lowly Malta.
With Spain and the Netherlands having continued their perfect starts to Euro 2012 qualifying on Friday, Germany showed it was set on following suit in Kaiserslautern when Klose put the home side ahead in just the third minute.
Klose raced past two defenders to knock in a free kick from Bastian Schweinsteiger at the far post before Mueller headed in a cross by Mesut Oezil and scored with a low shot to the corner to make it 3-0 at halftime.
Klose added his second goal in the 88th to take his international total to 61 in 107 games, just seven off Gerd Mueller's national record.
Germany has 15 points from five Group A matches, eight more than second-place Belgium, which won 2-0 against Austria Friday. Kazakhstan has lost all five of its matches without scoring.
England's easy win over cross-border rival Wales put England top of Group G.
Lampard scored a penalty after Ashley Young tumbled to the ground under a challenge by James Collins and Bent tapped in from Young's cross.
Bent's third goal in three internationals made it 2-0 after just 15 minutes and Wales, without injured winger Gareth Bale, was unable to recover against a side with defensive midfield cover from Jack Wilshere and Scott Parker.
But striker Wayne Rooney was booked for a lunging tackle at Joe Ledley and was shown a yellow card, ruling him out of the June 4 qualifier against a Switzerland side that drew 0-0 at Bulgaria.
Striker Edin Dzeko scored with seven minutes left to complete Bosnia's comeback for a 2-1 win against visiting Romania that took his side to within five points of Group D leader France. Bosnia was still in fourth place after Albania moved up to share second place by beating Belarus 1-0, but has played a game fewer than all the sides above it.
Group F looks a lot more open after Levan Kobiashvili converted Georgia's first clear chance of the match against Croatia, netting in injury time from a pass into the box by Otar Martsvaladze.
Israel was two points behind Georgia after a 2-1 win over Latvia.
Denmark seemed to be on course for a crucial win at Group H leader Norway when it led 1-0 with nine minutes left, Dennis Rommedahl having hit a 27th-minute fierce volley into the top-right corner.
But Norway coach Egil Olsen replaced defender Espen Ruud with striker Daniel Braaten in the 78th and Braaten threaded a pass through to Erik Huseklepp, whose left-foot shot beat goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen for the equalizer.
Norway tops Group H with 10 points from four games.
Denmark and Portugal each have seven points. Cyprus and Iceland drew 0-0 in the other match.
First-half goals by Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane gave Ireland a 2-1 victory over Macedonia and forced a three-way tie with Slovakia and Russia at the top of Group B.
Slovakia won 1-0 at Andorra and Russia surprisingly could only draw 0-0 at Armenia, leaving the pair tied with Ireland on 10 points.

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