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September 7, 2009

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Home » Sports » Soccer

Portugal, France now in trouble after draws

PORTUGAL, Czech Republic and France did little to improve their flagging chances of reaching next year's World Cup as they all recorded disappointing draws in Saturday's European qualifying matches.

While defending World Cup champion Italy won 2-0 at Estonia to maintain its lead over Ireland, Portugal now appears to be playing in hope of securing second place in its group and a playoff spot after a 1-1 draw at Denmark.

Czech Republic is in a similar position in Group 3 despite Milan Baros' late goal that secured a 2-2 draw at Slovakia, while France missed the chance to make up serious ground on Group 7 leader when it drew 1-1 against visiting Romania.

"The objective is to qualify, no matter how we get there," France coach Raymond Domenech said. "I'm not in the habit of giving up."

David Silva and David Villa each scored twice to help European champion Spain to a 5-0 win over Belgium that maintained its perfect record in Group 5.

Denmark looks to be on course for first place and automatic qualification from Group 1 after Nicklas Bendtner's 42nd-minute goal in a 1-1 draw with Portugal. The Portuguese had Cristiano Ronaldo, Simao Sabrosa and Deco in its lineup but could only get a late goal by substitute striker Liedson.

Portugal is in fourth place with 10 points from seven games, seven fewer than Denmark. Sweden moved up to 12 points, just one fewer than Hungary after Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a lucky injury-time goal to give the Swedes a 2-1 win at the second-place side.

France was jeered off the field at the end of its Group 7 match.

France looked in control after Thierry Henry scored in the 48th minute, but France defender Julien Escude scored an own goal seven minutes later when he put a cross from the right past startled goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

France has 14 points from seven games and trails group leader Serbia by four points.


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