Portugal wins, England draws in Euro qualifiers
England drew 2-2 at home to Switzerland to jeopardize its hopes
of making next year’s European Championship in Poland and Ukraine
and Portugal climbed to the top of Group H by beating Norway 1-0 on
Helder Postiga scored the 53rd-minute winner for Portugal in the
top-of-the-table match in Lisbon, securing his side a third
successive victory in qualifying since Paulo Bento took over as
coach in September.
England came from 2-0 down to grab a point at Wembley and only
remained top of Group G on goal difference from Montenegro, which
missed a chance to go above Fabio Capello’s side by drawing 1-1 to
Greece eased past Malta 3-1 to return to the top of Group F and
Robbie Keane’s double earned Ireland a 2-0 victory at Macedonia,
keeping Giovanni Trapattoni’s side first in Group B ahead on goals
scored from Russia and Slovakia – who both won on Saturday.
Postiga pounced at the near post to poke home a cross from
winger Nani as Portugal, captained by a subdued Cristiano Ronaldo,
finally broke down an obdurate Norway defense.
”This game was no less harder than we’d expected,” said Bento,
who has revived Portugal’s campaign since taking over from Carlos
Queiroz when the team had just one point in two qualifying games.
”We managed to take control and keep control.”
Denmark tied with Portugal and Norway in the standings with a
2-0 win at Iceland, with midfielders Lasse Schone and Christian
Eriksen scoring second-half goals in Reykjavik.
Like Portugal, England is far from securing a place at Euro
Tranquillo Barnetta scored two free kicks in the space of three
minutes to put the Swiss ahead 2-0 by the 35th but Frank Lampard
scored from the penalty spot for England in the 37th minute.
Substitute Ashley Young tied it with a powerful strike six
minutes into the second half.
”The Switzerland players were fresher, they have had a
different season,” said England coach Fabio Capello. ”We suffered
because we arrived without energy.”
Switzerland is six points behind the joint leaders with three
matches left. Only the top team qualifies automatically from each
”To draw in the home of football is very good, but we don’t
want to overestimate it. We have to go on,” Switzerland coach
Ottmar Hitzfeld said.
Montenegro failed to take advantage of England’s slip-up,
conceding a goal to Ivelin Popov in the 64th to draw with
Radomir Djalovic put the hosts ahead in the 52nd with a volley
from Vladimir Bozovic’s left-wing cross.
”We are fine with this draw, but it is a pity that we did not
score a positive result,” Montenegro coach Zlatko Kranjcar
All three of Group B’s pacesetters won to leave the pool wide
open with four matches left for each side.
Keane became the first British player to reach the 50-goal mark
in internationals. He has 51 after his brace in Macedonia.
Roman Pavlyuchenko, Keane’s teammate at English side Tottenham,
scored a hat trick in Russia’s 3-1 home win over Armenia, and
Slovakia edged past Andorra 1-0 thanks to Miroslav Karhan’s
In Group F, Yiannis Fetfatzidis scored twice and Kyriakos
Papadopoulos added a goal on debut to help visiting Greece beat
Michael Mifsud scored Malta’s lone goal.
Israel stayed one point behind Greece and level on points with
Croatia after a 2-1 victory at Latvia.
In African Cup of Nations qualifying, a last-minute penalty miss
by Samuel Eto’o left Cameroon with little hope of playing in the
tournament following a 0-0 home draw with Senegal.
The Cameroon captain’s injury-time spot-kick hit the crossbar,
denying the four-time African champion a precious victory in its
Police used water cannons outside Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium to
disperse over a thousand disgruntled supporters after they
prevented the Cameroon team bus from leaving the ground, blaming
captain Eto’o for the team’s struggles.
Elsewhere, Uganda and Burkina Faso closed in on next year’s
African championship after both teams secured solid victories.
Uganda beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0 to edge closer to its first Cup of
Nations since 1978, when it lost in the final. Burkina Faso stayed
on course for Gabon and Equatorial Guinea with a 4-1 hammering of
Morocco routed north African rival Algeria 4-0 in the most
one-sided of the continent’s six qualifiers on Saturday.
Also, Zambia beat Mozambique 3-0 and Sierra Leone edged Niger
1-0 to give it an outside chance of qualifying in a group
containing heavyweights South Africa and Egypt.
Top-ranked African team Ghana beat Congo 3-1, giving the Black
Stars a three-point lead on Sudan, which has played one fewer
AP Writers Gerald Imray in Johannesburg and Emmanuel Tumanjong
in Yaounde, Cameroon contributed.
Gerald Imray can be reached at