Originally created 10/07/01

World Cup roundup

David Beckham scored off a free kick in injury time Saturday, and England qualified for the World Cup with a 2-2 tie against Greece.

On a day of 21 World Cup qualifiers, three-time champion Italy clinched its berth when it beat Hungary 1-0 on Alessandro Del Piero's goal in the 44th minute. Denmark, Russia, Croatia and Portugal also qualified for soccer's top event.

Next month's playoffs for the final European berths also took shape. Three-time champion Germany plays Ukraine, Belgium meets the Czech Republic, Turkey faces Austria or Israel, Slovenia meets Romania, and Ireland plays the third-place team from Asia.

At Manchester, England (5-1-2) appeared headed for a shocking defeat and a place in the playoffs until Beckham beat goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis on a 25-yard free kick three minutes into injury time.

"One had to go in," Beckham said. "I had quite a few free-kicks and was disappointed with most of them. When I got my last chance Teddy Sheringham said he would have it but I decided I'd take it."

Germany (5-1-2), which finished a scoreless tie against visiting Finland (3-2-3) minutes earlier in Gelsenkirchen, appeared set to win Group Nine on goal difference until Beckham scored.

Angelos Charisteas had put Greece (2-5-1) ahead in the 36th minute on an 18-yard shot that beat goalkeeper Nigel Martyn, but Teddy Sheringham tied the score in the 68th minute, just 13 seconds after entering the game.

One minute later, Demis Nikolaidis put Greece in front 2-1 on a six-yard shot.

At Parma, Italy (6-0-2) won Group Eight by defeating Hungary (2-4-2). Del Piero scored in the 44th minute, curving a free kick over a defensive wall from just outside the penalty area.

In other games that determined berths, Croatia upset visiting Belgium 1-0, Denmark defeated Iceland 6-0, Russia beat Switzerland 4-0 and Portugal routed Estonia 5-0.

Coming into Saturday, Sweden, Poland and Spain had clinched spots and Turkey was assured of a place in the playoffs.

The 32-nation field at next year's tournament in Japan and South Korea also includes the co-hosts and defending champion France along with Argentina, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

Craig Brown resigned Saturday as coach of previously eliminated Scotland following a 2-1 win over visiting Latvia at Glasgow.

In the day's lone exhibition game, the first meeting of France and Algeria was halted in the 73rd minute at Saint-Denis after hundreds of fans invaded the field and were dispersed by riot police. France led 4-1 at the time.

Group One

At Moscow, Russia (7-1-2) routed Switzerland (4-4-2) as Vladimir Beschastnykh scored three goals, converting a penalty kick in the 14th minute, heading in a Rolan Gusev's pass in the 19th and heading in Yegor Titov's pass in the 38th. Titov scored in the 83rd.

At Ljubljana, Slovenia (5-0-5) beat out Yugoslavia (5-1-4) for a playoff spot as Nastja Ceh scored twice in his debut for the national team, which defeated the Faeroe Islands 3-0. Senad Tiganj, also making his international debut, got the final goal over the Faeroes (2-7-1).

Group Two

At Lisbon, Portugal (7-0-3) defeated Estonia (2-6-2) and edged Ireland for first place on goal difference. Nino Gomes and Luis Figo scored two goals each and Joao Pinto scored once.

At Dublin, Ian Harte, Niall Quinn, David Connolly and Roy Keane scored to lead Ireland (7-0-3) over Cyprus (6-0-2).

Group Three

At Copenhagen, Denmark (6-0-4) got four goals in the first half against Iceland (4-5-1), two by Thomas Gravesen and one each by Dennis Rommedahl and Ebbe Sand. Sand and Jan Michaelsen scored in the second half.

At Prague, Tomas Rosicky and Pavel Nedved scored two goals each, and Milan Baros and Vratislav Lokvenc scored one apiece to lead the Czech Republic (6-2-2) into the playoffs over Bulgaria (5-3-2).

Group Five

At Chorzow, visiting Ukraine (4-1-5) won a playoff spot with a 1-1 tie. Emmanuel Olisadebe scored for Poland (6-1-3) in the 40th minute, but Andriy Shevchenko tied it in the 81st after Poland goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, under pressure from Sergiy Popov, failed to hold a pass.

Group Six

At Zagreb, Croatia (5-0-3) - a semifinalist at the 1998 tournament - moved past visiting Belgium (5-1-2) into first place on Alen Boksic's goal off a pass from Bosko Balaban in the 76th minute.

Group Eight

Romania (5-2-1), which lost out on first place with Italy's win, tied Georgia 1-1 when Gheorghe Popescu scored in the 88th minute at Bucharest. Alexander Iashvili scored in the 54th minute for Georgia (3-4-1).


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