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Spain, England Maintain Perfect World Cup Starts
    2008-10-16 10:29:29     Xinhua

England maintained their one hundred percent winning record in World Cup qualifying while Spain and Netherlands also won to make it maximum points on Wednesday.

 

Portugal's stuttering form continued as a goalless draw at home to 10-man Albania left them in third place in Group One.

 

The Portuguese have now gone three qualifiers without a win and lie two points behind joint group leaders Denmark and Hungary, which jumped from fifth to second after winning 1-0 at Malta.

 

Two goals from Wayne Rooney and one from Steven Gerrard lifted England to a 3-1 win at Belarus, their fourth straight victory.

 

The side under Fabio Capello now enjoy its best start in a World Cup qualifying, heading into a six-month break with a five-point lead over Group Six rivals Ukraine and Croatia, who beat underdogs Andorra 4-0.

 

David Villa scored a late winner as European champions Spain overcame Belgium 2-1, stretching their unbeaten run to 27 matches and made it four wins from four in Group Five.

 

Spain were dealt with early setbacks as they fell behind just after seven minutes through Wesley Sonck's opener and then lost Liverpool striker Fernando Torres in the 16th minute to a tweaked leg muscle injury.

 

Andres Iniesta netted in the 36th minute to level the score but Vicente del Bosque's side had to wait until two minutes from time for the final victory when Villa headed in substitute Daniel Guiza' s cross.

 

Spain lead Group Five by four points and in the same group, Turkey jumped above Belgium into second place after a 0-0 tie in Estonia.

 

Holland made three wins from three thanks to a 1-0 win over Norway in Oslo and Bert van Marwijk's Oranje now hold a five-point cushion over nearest challengers Scotland.

 

Mark van Bommel scored the only goal after 64 minutes with a well-struck volley.

 

Other winners include world champion and Group eight leaders Italy, who held off a strong challenge from Montenegro with a 2-1 win thanks to Alberto Aquilani's double.

 

Germany also labored to beat Wales 1-0 by a long-range strike from Piotr Trochowski and are still comfortable Group Four leaders with a four point edge over Wales and Russia, who thumped Finland 3-0 in Moscow with the help of two own-goals from the visitors.

 

Greece's winning streak was stopped after a 2-1 loss at home to Switzerland but they still top Group Two, one point ahead of Israel and two ahead of Switzerland.

 

Serbia and Lithuania head Group Seven on nine points after both sides picked up their third qualifying wins.

 

Serbia produced a devastating first-half spell to claim a 3-1 victory in Austria, while a Tomas Danilevicius goal gave Lithuania a rather more low-key 1-0 success at home to the Faroe Islands.

 

Austria, France and Romania are all on four points but the latter two still have a game in hand.

 

In Group three, a second-half goal from Libor Sionko gave the first win to Czech Republic, who edged past Slovenia 1-0 in Teplice.

 

The Czechs sit fourth in the group, five behind surprise leaders Slovakia, who upset Poland 2-1 with two late goals from Stanislav Sestak.
 
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