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Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK

BBC enjoys double delight

England's second-round victory over Denmark on Saturday was the most-watched match of the World Cup to date on British television.

And the BBC won the lion's share of viewers as they did during the Republic of Ireland's penalty shoot-out defeat to Spain 24 hours later.

The matches were the first of the tournament in which the BBC and ITV had gone head-to-head.

Up to 16.8m people watched England's 3-0 win with an average of 12.4m viewers tuning into BBC One's live coverage.

ITV1 drew in an average 3.2m, just 18% compared to the BBC's 70% - a ratio of 1:4.

It was the biggest audience on the BBC for a Saturday lunchtime since the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.

On Sunday the BBC attracted more than twice as many viewers as ITV for Ireland's crucial second round match.

A total audience of 10.8m, with a further 1.9m for the penalty shoot-out, tuned in.

The BBC audience peaked at 9.3m with ITV recording 3.4m.

The BBC estimates that millions more would have been watching both games in pubs and sports clubs up and down the country.

ITV was not available for comment.

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