Group-by-group round up of the European World Cup qualifying after Wednesday’s matches.
Holland nicreased their lead to four points with a 4-0 win over Andorra despite having Philip Cocu sent off.
The win guarantees Holland second place at worst, have 28 points from 10 matches, four ahead of the Czech Republic who moved back into second place above Romania with a comprehensive 4-1 home win over bottom-placed Armenia in Olomouc.
The Czechs have 24 points from 10 matches – two points more than Romania who only have one match left to play.
Finland, who cannot qualify, stayed fourth after beating Macedonia 5-1 with a hat-trick from Mikael Forssell.
Ukraine, already, lost for the first time in their penultimate match with Turkey winning 1-0 in Kiev. The result means Turkeyy remain in second place, two points ahead of European champions Greece who won 2-1 in Kazakhstan thanks to a last minute goal from substitute Nikos Liberopoulos.
The Ukrainians, home and dry, are top with 24 points from 11 matches, Turkey are second with 20 from 11 games and Greece third with 18 from 10.
Denmark, 6-1 winners over Georgia in Copenhagen, are still in with a shout with 16 points from their 10 games, although anything less than a win over Greece in their next match will see their chances evaporate.
Portugal edged closer to the finals with a 0-0 draw in Russia who played the second half with 10 men after Alexei Smertin was sent off just before the break.
Portugallead with 24 points with two matches to play and will seal their place in the finals if they beat Liechtenstein at home on October 8.
Slovakia – who drew 1-1 in Latvia – and Russia are joint second on 19 points with their final qualifier in Bratislava on October 12 likely to decide who finishes as eventual runners-up to likely group winners Portugal.
Ireland’s hopes suffered a huge setback with a 1-0 home defeat to France. A second half goal from Thierry Henry gave the French victory over Ireland who became the first of the leading quartet to lose a match.
Away wins for Switzerland and Israel left the top three in the tightest group of all separated by just one point.
Switzerland, who won 3-1 in Cyprus, are top with 16 points, level with France, while Israel, 2-0 winners in the Faroe Islands, are third on 15. Ireland are fourth on 13, although Wednesday’s defeat does not end their hopes of qualifying.
Italy went five points clear at the top after Luca Toni scored a hat-trick in their 4-1 away win over Belarus while second-placed Norway craswent down to a surprise 2-1 home defeat to Scotland who now have an outside chance of finishing second.
Slovenia improved their chances of a play-off spot with a 2-1 win in Moldova to pull level with Norway on 12 points.
Scotland moved on to 10 points to remain in the hunt with a home match against Belarus and away game in Slovenia to play.
Poland moved five points clear of England at the top of the group after they beat Wales 1-0 in Warsaw while England suffered a humiliating 1-0 defeat against Northern Ireland in Belfast.
Poland beat Wales thanks to a 54th minute penalty from striker Maciej Zurawski and moved on to 24 points with one match to play.
They are now likely to qualify directly for the finals either as group winners or as one of the two best runners-up in Europe – even if England win their last two matches to take first spot in the group.
David Healy scored Northern Ireland’s winner after 73 minutes to seal a memorable victory – the first they have achieved over England since 1927.
Spain’s hopes of topping the group suffered a setback when they were held 1-1 by Serbia & Montenegro. The Serbians conceded a goal for the first time in the group after going a record seven consecutive qualifiers with a clean sheet when Raul opened the scoring, but a goal from Mateja Kezman midway through the second half levelled the scores.
Meanwhile, Bosnia’s hopes are still alive following their 1-0 win in Lithuania to pull within a point of Spain on 13.
Belgium’s 8-0 win over San Marino lifted them on to 11 points and gave them a slim hope of fiinishing second.
An injury time goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Sweden a 1-0 away win over Hungary and top spot after Croatia were frustrated by Malta in a 1-1 draw in Valetta.
The Swedes moved on to 21 points, one clear of Croatia, but the Croatians can regain first place if they beat the Swedes at home on October 12.