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Rediff.com  » Sports » Images: France end winless run as big guns hit target

Images: France end winless run as big guns hit target

Last updated on: September 8, 2010 16:04 IST

Benzema lifts France

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Two late goals from Karim Benzema and Florent Malouda gave France their first win in six competitive matches and kick-started their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign when they beat Bosnia 2-0 on Tuesday.

Traditional powerhouses Italy, Germany, England and World Cup runners-up Netherlands all maintained their perfect starts with the goals flowing as they seek to seal their places in the finals in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.

Italy crushed Faroe Islands 5-0, Germany blasted Azerbaijan, managed by former West Germany's World Cup winner Berti Vogts, 6-1, England won 3-1 in Switzerland and the Dutch saw off Finland 2-1 with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring both their goals.


Image: Karim Benzema celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Bosnia
Photographs: Reuters
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Portugal's frustrating run continues

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Sweden also hit the goal trail with a 6-0 win over San Marino but Portugal, struggling without suspended coach Carlos Queiroz and the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, continued to stumble.

After drawing 4-4 with Cyprus in their opening qualifier on Friday, Portugal crashed to a 1-0 defeat against Norway in Oslo and they are now second-bottom of Group H ahead of traditional no-hopers Iceland who were beaten 1-0 by Denmark.

There was a thriller in Istanbul where Turkey and Belgium traded the lead before the Turks won 3-2 to maintain their perfect start in Group A.

There were few shocks on the second major night of European Championship qualifiers which brought to a close the first double-header of the campaign following Friday's opening games.

But Russia were stunned in Moscow where Slovakia secured a 1-0 victory thanks to a first-half goal from Miroslav Stoch.

Liechtenstein also came within seconds of a rare competitive point against Scotland at Hampden Park where they took the lead through skipper Mario Frick early in the second half.

Scotland, facing one of the worst results in their long international history, salvaged their respect and all three points with a 97th minute winner from Stephen McManus who headed home a corner in the last few seconds of stoppage time.


Image: Portugal's goalkeeper Eduardo tries to save a ball during their Euro 2012 qualifying match against Norway

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First victory

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One man who has already suffered a damaging home defeat in this campaign is new France coach Laurent Blanc, whose team compounded their World Cup failure with a shocking 1-0 home defeat to Belarus in Group D on Friday.

They went to Bosnia desperate for their first victory in a competitive match since beating Ireland in the first leg of their World Cup playoff last November.

France appeared to be heading for a draw in Sarajevo until Benzema scored with a magical strike after 72 minutes and Florent Malouda secured the points six minutes later with their second goal.

Former World champions Italy, whose World Cup also ended in a group stage exit like France, struggled to win their opening qualifier in Estonia on Friday but had no problems on Tuesday.

Five players got on the scoresheet against the Faroe Islands in Florence -- Alberto Gilardino (11th minute), Daniele De Rossi (22), Antonio Cassano (27), Fabio Quagliarella (80) and Andrea Pirlo (89).


Image: Italy's Quagliarella scores against Faroe Islands during their Euro 2012 qualifying match in Florence

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Germany, England on target yet again

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Germany were also in no mood to show mercy to outclassed opponents and one of their great soccer heroes Vogts, who is now in charge of Azerbaijan.

Miroslav Klose scored twice to take his tally to 55 goals for Germany in his 103rd international, while Lukas Podolski showed a welcome return to form as Germany went top of Group A on goal difference ahead of Turkey.

England, also seeking redemption after a poor World Cup, followed up last week's 4-0 win over Bulgaria in London with an excellent 3-1 victory over Switzerland in Basle.

Wayne Rooney, who has had stories about his private life splashed all over the tabloids in Britain, scored England's opener and his first goal for his country for a year.

Adam Johnson and Darren Bent, with his first England goal, adding the others against the Swiss who finished with 10 men following the second half dismissal of Stephan Lichsteiner.

Bulgaria, who lost to England on Friday, were defeated again, going down 1-0 at home to Montenegro with coach Stanimir Stoilov becoming the first coaching casualty of the campaign by resigning immediately after the game.


Image: Klose of Germany scores a goal against Azerbaijan in their Euro 2012 qualifying soccer match in Cologne

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