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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 20:15 GMT
Croatia top after win in Israel
Eduardo da Silva
Croatia are three points ahead of England in Group E
Eduardo da Silva's hat-trick guided Croatia to a 4-3 win over Israel to push them top of Euro 2008 qualifying Group E as England dropped to third.

Roberto Colautti's tap-in gave Israel an early lead, but Croatia led 2-1 at half-time thanks to Darjo Srna's penalty and Da Silva's slick finish.

The Brazilian-born Da Silva extended Croatia's lead in the 54th minute, before Yossi Benayoun made it 3-2.

Da Silva then completed his hat-trick, before Coalutti scored again late on.

Croatia top Group E with 10 points from four matches, followed by Russia, who won 2-0 in Macedonia on Wednesday, on eight points.

England, Macedonia and Israel all have seven points, while Estonia and Andorra have yet to pick up any points.

Russia scored twice in the first half to resuscitate their hopes of reaching the finals.

Vladimir Bystrov drove the ball in to the roof of the net after a Diniyar Bilyaletdinov cross from the left on 18 minutes to give Russia the lead.

Just after the half-hour Andrei Arshavin added a second with a great solo effort.

The game was briefly interrupted when Macedonian riot police clashed with Russian fans in the stands following Arshavin's goal.

"It was by far our best performance since I became Russia coach," said Russia coach Guus Hiddink, who took on the role after managing Australia at this year's World Cup finals.

In Group D, Germany were held to a shock 1-1 draw in Cyprus after Yiannis Okkas' goal cancelled out Michael Ballack's opener in in Nicosia.

When Chelsea midfielder Ballack put Germany ahead with a 20-yard drive in the 15th minute, the visitors seemed set for a sixth successive win.

But Okkas levelled on 43 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area.

It was Cyprus' first goal against Germany, but the visitors still top the group with 10 points from four games.

Elsewhere, the Republic of Ireland enjoyed a straightforward 5-0 win over group minnows San Marino in the final match at Lansdowne Road before major redevelopment work.

England coach Steve McClaren might have his work cut out to reach the Euro 2008 finals, but another Englishman - Roy Hodgson - continues to enjoy success in coaching Finland, who have never qualified for a major tournament.

Finland moved top of Group A with a 1-0 win over Armenia in their Euro 2008 qualifier on Wednesday after a fine display by goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Midfielder Mika Nurmela gave Finland the lead after 10 minutes with a free header as he connected with a low cross by Jonatan Johansson.

Bolton keeper Jaaskelainen made two superb saves in the second half to keep the home side ahead.

Finland lead the group with 11 points from five games followed by Serbia who have 10 points from four matches.

Finland have already beaten Poland and drawn with World Cup semi-finalists Portugal.

A defensive mistake by former Manchester City defender Daniel Van Buyten enabled Poland to secure a third straight competitive Group A victory as the Poles beat Belgium in Brussels.

Van Buyten was dispossessed by Radoslaw Matusiak, who proceeded to slot the ball home.

Poland created numerous chances and worthy winners against a lacklustre Belgium side.

In the other Group A game Portugal beat Kazakhstan 3-0 with Benfica forward Sabrosa Simao scoring twice.

Simao's goals came in the 8th and 86th minute, with Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo scoring Portugal's second goal.

SEE ALSO
Rep of Ireland 5-0 San Marino
15 Nov 06 |  Internationals
International photos
15 Nov 06 |  Football


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