Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pepe gives Portugal win, Netherlands defeat Scotland and France draw against Serbia

Pepe scored against HIngary on Wednesday to keep his team's chances of qualifying for the World Cup still alive. Lass and Benzema were unable to lead France to more than a 1-1 draw against Serbia and the Netherlands, who have already clinched a berth in South Africa knocked off Scotland with Van der Vaart making a second-half appearance.

Portugal revived their flagging hopes of reaching the play-offs with a priceless win in Budapest. The Germany 2006 semi-finalists wasted little time in imposing themselves. Taking advantage of the space created by Cristiano Ronaldo's clever run, Pepe had all the time he needed to head Deco's well-flighted free-kick into the back of the net. That allowed the Portuguese to hit the desperate Hungarians on the counter at will, with the sprightly Ronaldo causing problems throughout for the hosts. Portugal now face the task of having to win their two remaining games, at home to Hungary and Malta, while also hoping for Sweden to drop points.

Serbia edged a step closer to automatic qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ finals as the Group 7 leaders held nearest challengers France to a stalemate in Belgrade. France recovered from the ninth-minute dismissal of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to salvage a point as Thierry Henry's effort after half an hour cancelled out Nenad Milijas' 13th-minute opener from the penalty spot. Serbia themselves ended the night with ten men when Danko Lazovic was dismissed late on. The draw leaves France four points behind Serbia with two matches to play.

Scotland's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ hopes were shattered on Wednesday as they slumped to defeat against the Netherlands at Hampden, with a question mark now hanging over George Burley's future as manager. It was a superb effort from the home nation who will be left wondering about what might have been, with Kenny Miller hitting the woodwork and squandering another glorious chance in front of goal, after Scott Brown had also come close. However, hopes of taking a point from this match and keeping slim hopes of a play-off spot alive were dashed by a late strike from substitute Eljero Elia which maintained Holland's 100 per cent record in Group 9, while Norway defeated Macedonia to snatched the coveted runners-up spot on goal difference.

Paraguay qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over Argentina which leaves the two-time world champions in real danger of missing out on the finals for the first time since 1970. A superb goal by Nelson Haedo Valdes in the 27th minute settled the match which saw Argentina reduced to 10-men when veteran midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron was sent-off early in the second-half for a second bookable offence. Defeat leaves Argentina in fifth place - only good enough for a place in a play-off against the fourth-placed CONCACAF finisher.

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