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Page last updated at 21:05 GMT, Saturday, 10 October 2009 22:05 UK

Italy seal World Cup finals berth

Miroslav Klose celebrates
Klose celebrates scoring the goal that seals Germany's place in South Africa

World champions Italy, Germany, Denmark and Serbia have all booked their places at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Miroslav Klose's strike gave Germany a 1-0 win over Russia and stretched their lead at the top of Group Four to four points with one round of matches left.

Alberto Gilardino's last-minute goal earned the Italians a 2-2 draw in Ireland to ensure they top Group Eight.

Denmark qualified courtesy of a 1-0 win over Sweden in Group One while Serbia crushed Romania 5-0 to top Group Seven.

Klose silenced the 80,000-strong Russian home crowd when he stabbed the ball home from six metres after a one-two with Lukas Podolski to score his 50th international goal and set Germany on course for victory in Moscow.

"We said from the start that we wanted to play for a win here, and so go forward," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.


Despite the defeat, Russia coach Guus Hiddink praised his team and voiced confidence that his side can navigate their way through the play-offs.

"We can not be happy about the result, but you can be satisfied about the attacking way we played," said the Dutchman.

"If we play as we have in this and recent qualifying games, we are of course favourites."

Italy snatched a last-minute draw in Dublin thanks to Gilardino's cool finish, after if looked as though Sean St Ledger's 87th-minute goal would keep the Republic in the hunt for top spot in Group Eight.

Glen Whelan had given Ireland an early lead before Mauro Camoranesi equalised after 26 minutes.

Alberto Gilardino
Gilardino celebrates his last-minute equaliser against the Republic

Italy can now play their final group game at home to Cyprus knowing they will be able to defend their world crown in South Africa next year, whilst Ireland face the play-offs.

Midfielder Jakob Poulsen scored with a low shot from outside the area in the 79th minute to seal Denmark's victory over the Swedes in Copenhagen.

Next year's finals will be the first major tournament the Danes have played in since the 2004 European Championships.

Sweden, who host Albania in their final game, are left fighting for second place in the group with Portugal, who kept their hopes alive with a 3-0 win over Hungary.

Portugal are in a much better position than the Scandinavians, a point better off and needing only to beat lowly Malta at home to secure their play-off spot.

Nikola Zigic, Marko Pantelic, Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Milan Javanovic (2) scored the goals that secured Serbia a berth in next year's finals.

The victory means that they remain four points clear of nearest rivals France with just one round of matches remaining.

It will be the first time the country competes at a World Cup under the name Serbia, having participated as Serbia-Montenegero in 2006.

France's 5-0 win over the Faroe Islands gave them a play-off spot.

Switzerland assured themselves of at least a play-off place after a 3-0 win against Luxembourg in Group Two.

Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos headed two of his side's three goals in the first eight minutes, with Benjamin Huggel heading the third - the 1,000th goal in the national side's history.

A home victory over Israel in their final game will seal their spot in South Africa.

Greece have an outside chance of overtaking the Swiss after an impressive 5-2 win over Latvia.

The Greeks face Luxembourg in their last match knowing a win and a Swiss defeat could see them through.

Latvia remain in the hunt for the final play-off spot and face a home match with Moldova on Wednesday.

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see also
World Cup qualifiers round-up
11 Oct 09 |  African
Ivory Coast qualify for World Cup
10 Oct 09 |  African
Who has qualified for South Africa 2010?
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Saturday's football as it happened
10 Oct 09 |  Football

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