Germany 2006

Germany 2006

The England team and Sven-Goran Eriksson partly redeemed themselves after their Austrian disaster by taking home three valuable away points from traditional banana skin Poland. James’ error in Vienna cost him his place in goal, with Paul Robinson taking over. His Spurs team-mate, Jermaine Defoe, replaced Alan Smith up front for his full England debut and the in-form striker made an immediate impact, putting his country ahead with a superbly taken goal. Poland equalised shortly after the interval, but Michael Owen’s menacing run forced a Polish defender to put the ball through his own net to settle matters.

Also in Group Six, Wales came from behind to draw 2-2 with Northern Ireland, after the Italian referee reduced the Irish team to nine players with two questionable red cards. Austria remain equal on points, with England at the top of the table following a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan.

Scotland made a poor start to their campaign, only drawing at home with Slovenia, whereas the Republic of Ireland’s 1-1 draw in Switzerland was highly credible.

Greece continued its bad run, with a 0-0 home draw against Turkey and Spain will be unhappy to return home with only one point from Bosnia. France disappointed against the Faroe Islands, scoring only twice, but Holland impressed, two van Hooijdonk strikes, putting paid to the Czech Republic. Croatia also deserve a mention, winning 1-0 in Sweden to maintain their 100 per cent record.

Last but not least, alate Ronaldo show helped Portugal score four times against Estonia in the last 15 minutes, after looking to be heading for a goal-less draw. The young Manchester United midfielder is rapidly growing into the Figo role – scoring the opener and providing the crosses for a further two. Postiga, two and Pauleta netted after Ronaldo opened the floodgates. The next double-header will take place on 9 and 13 October.