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Rediff.com  » Sports » Inspired Spain sink Turkey, Italy held

Inspired Spain sink Turkey, Italy held

April 02, 2009 10:43 IST

Winger Albert Riera struck a stoppage-time winner for European champions Spain who came from behind to win 2-1 in Turkey and maintain their 100 percent record in 2010 World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday.

Spain, the world's top-ranked side in the FIFA rankings, made it six wins from six in Group Five and can almost certainly start planning for next year's finals in South Africa.

The Netherlands also extended their perfect record in Group Nine with Dirk Kuyt scoring twice in a 4-0 demolition of Macedonia.

Europe's other heavyweights flexed their muscles with differing performances and results.

World champions Italy, a man down for almost the entire game in Bari after striker Giampaolo Pazzini's early red card, were foiled by a late Robbie Keane equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Ireland in Group Eight.

Group Four leaders Germany eased to a 2-0 win over Wales in Cardiff while France scraped a 1-0 win over Lithuania in Paris.

Spain extended their remarkable unbeaten run to 31 games stretching back to November 2006 but were again forced to display their resilience after Samih Senturk, who scored three goals in Turkey's run to the semi-finals of Euro 2008, had fired the hosts ahead at a raucous Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul.

Turkey, who lost 1-0 to Spain in Madrid on Saturday, took the lead against the run of play after 26 minutes.

Tuncay Sanli got to Arda Turan's teasing cross into the danger zone before Iker Cassilas and with the Spain keeper out of position, an off-balance Tuncay was able to square for Semih to slot in.

Spain drew level just past the hour when English referee Mike Riley awarded a penalty after Ibrahim Uzulmez blocked a Torres close-range header with his arm. Xabi Alonso made no mistake from the spot.

The winner came from a swift break in injury time. From a long ball forward, Daniel Guiza got the better of his marker down the right flank and cross low for an unmarked Riera to fire in.

A stunned crowd in Bari fell silent after four minutes when Pazzini, who scored Italy's second goal in their 2-0 win over Montenegro on his international debut on Saturday, was harshly shown a straight red card for catching John O'Shea with his leading arm.

Galvanised, Group Eight leaders Italy went ahead soon after when Vincenzo Iaquinta tapped in but Ireland, managed by former Italy boss Giovanni Trapattoni, eventually capitalised on their numerical advantage with Robbie Keane levelling late on.

"It's not right, not right. Ninety minutes with 10 men because of that? At international level? It is not right in any way," a furious Italy coach Marcello Lippi told Rai television.

France again had Franck Ribery to thank for keeping their qualifying hopes on track.

The midfielder hit the winner for France for the second time in four days when he poked home 15 minutes from time.

France moved up to second in Group Seven with 10 points from five games, two points adrift of leaders Serbia.

Michael Ballack set Germany on their way against Wales with a superb long-range strike and an own goal from Ashley Williams made it 2-0 soon after halftime.

Poland rebounded from their weekend defeat by Northern Ireland by thumping 10 goals past hapless San Marino in Group Three. Ebi Smolarek helped himself to four goals for the Poles.

Source:
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