Euro 2012 qualification games continued today and their were bug victories for Russia, Greece and Denmark, while Robbie Keane set a new Ireland scoring record.
All six teams in Group B were in action today and Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp must have been wondering why all his forwards suddenly found their scoring touch after the Premier League season ended! Russia came from a goal behind to beat Armenia 3-1 behind a hat-trick from Spurs striker Roman Pavlyuchenko Slovakia joined them on 13 points after a 1-0 win at home to Andorra, Miroslav Karhan grabbing the only goal. Finally, Republic of Ireland became the third side to reach 13 points following their 2-0 away win against FYR Macedonia. Robbie Keane scored both goals, while the hosts missed a penalty, to ensure Giovanni Trapattoni’s hopes of reaching next summer’s tournament remained strong. The Irish now top the group on goals scored from Russia, with Slovakia third.
Israel responded to Croatia’s victory last night by beating Latvia 2-1 to keep pace with the leaders. Captain Yossi Benayoun put his side in front before defender Tal Ben-Haim doubled the lead from the penalty spot shortly before half-time. Aleksandrs Cauna reduced the deficit in the second half, also with a spot-kick, but the away side held out for the win. In the group’s other game today, Giannis Fetfatzidis, twice, and Kyriakos Papadopoulos were on target as Greece eased past Malta 3-1 to regain first place in the table on 14 points, one ahead of Croatia and Israel.
England’s draw with Switzerland gave Montenegro the opportunity to take the outright lead in Group G but they slipped to a 1-1 draw at home to Bulgaria. Radomir Djalovic put the hosts ahead only for Ivelin Popov to equalise, the first goal Montenegro have conceded in qualifying so far. The result means England remain top of the table, ahead of Montenegro on goal difference.
In the early kick-off, Denmark were comfortable winners over Iceland, with second-half goals from Lasse Schøne and Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen earning a 2-0 victory to move the Danes onto ten points. In the other game, Portugal beat Norway 1-0 thanks to a goal from Helder Postiga. Those two results combined to leave Denmark, Norway and Portugal all on ten points, with the latter now in first place due to goal difference.
Republic of Ireland captain Keane reached the landmark of 50 goals for his country during the match against Macedonia. Already Ireland’s all-time top goalscorer, Keane’s early strike saw him join an elite club of players who have achieved a half-century at international level. Keane’s 50 goals have come in just over 100 appearances, giving him an impressive ratio of roughly one goal in every two games.
Another round of fixtures is scheduled for next Tuesday, 7 June, with six matches to be played. Erik Hamren’s Sweden will hope to have captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic fit to play against Finland as they aim to reduce Netherlands’ lead in Group E to three points. Hungary will expect to stay in touch with the Swedes by beating San Marino, who have neither scored nor earned a point so far. Germany travel to Azerbaijan hoping to edge even closer to qualification from Group A, while in Group C, rock-bottom Faroe Islands host fourth-placed Estonia. Two ties take place in Group D as second-placed Belarus welcome strugglers Luxembourg and Bosnia-Herzegovina meet Albania.
photo credit: TottenhamFan