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Israel gift England a lifeline

Israel snatch a late victory against visitors Russia to give struggling England a lifeline ahead of their Group E qualifier against Croatia at home on Wednesday night.

sports Updated: Nov 18, 2007 20:27 IST

A last-minute goal from Christian Panucci gave Italy a 2-1 win over Scotland to book the Azzurri's place in next year's Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland, while England's hopes of joining them received a boost as Russia went down to Israel.

The world champions were on Saturday joined by France, Croatia, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain. Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece and Romania had already booked their places while Austria and Switzerland qualify as hosts.

Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni gave Italy the lead in the Group B qualifier after just two minutes, but Scotland captain Barry Ferguson gave the home side hope with a second-half equaliser.

However, Panucci broke Scottish hearts with a header in injury time. The result means Italy and France, who play Ukraine in their final qualifying match on Wednesday, take the two qualifying spots from the group. Lithuania surprised Ukraine 2-0 in the evening's other group game.

Russia missed a chance to all but assure their qualification after a 2-1 defeat at Israel in Group E. Guus Hiddink's side went into the game needing victory, followed by a win against Andorra on Wednesday to book their ticket at Euro 2008, but fell behind to an Elyaniv Barda effort after 10 minutes.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov equalised for Russia and Dmitri Sychev hit a post before Omer Golan snatched a late winner for Israel. Rivals England now need just a draw Wednesday against group leaders Croatia, who are now qualified thanks to the Russian loss despite going down 2-0 to Macedonia.

Turkey are favourites to join already qualified defending champions Greece from Group C after coming from behind to beat Norway 2-1 in Oslo.

Norway went into the game needing a win to go through and went ahead after 12 minutes through an Erik Hagen overhead kick.

But Emre Belozoglu equalised for Turkey on 29 minutes with Nihat Kahveci striking the winner on the hour mark. Turkey can now guarantee qualification with a victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina Wednesday. Greece beat Malta 5-0.

Poland qualify from Group A thanks to a 2-0 victory over Belgium while a 2-1 victory against Azerbaijan keeps alive Finland's hopes of pipping Portugal to second spot.

Makhmud Gurbonov gave Azerbaijan a surprise lead on 63 minutes but late goals from Mikael Forssell on 79 and substitute Shefki Kuqi four minutes from time secured the three points for Finland.

A Hugo Almeida goal three minutes before half time gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Armenia to set up what could be the decider against Finland on Wednesday. Portugal, on 26 points, are three ahead of Finland, but Serbia -- six behind Portugal -- are still in the running.

Serbia's game against Kazakhstan was postponed because of snow and has been rescheduled for Sunday. Serbia then meets Poland on Wednesday.

Goals from Warren Feeney and David Healy helped Northern Ireland to a 2-1 victory against Denmark, meaning Nigel Worthington's side can still qualify.

However, Northern Ireland will need to win in Spain on Wednesday and hope Sweden lose at home against Latvia, who beat Liechtenstein 4-1 in the other game.

The Netherlands secured the last remaining qualifying spot available in Group G with a 1-0 win over Luxembourg, Danny Koevermans from PSV Eindhoven scoring the winner after 43 minutes.

Already qualified Romania went down 1-0 to Bulgaria with Velizar Dimitrov getting the only goal of the game after six minutes. Belarus overcame Albania 4-2 in the other group game.

In Group D, already qualified Germany and the Czech Republic both registered easy wins.

Germany trounced Cyprus 4-0 thanks to goals from Clemens Fritz, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Hitzlsperger, while the Czechs beat Slovakia 3-1. Ireland and Wales played out a 2-2 draw in Cardiff.

Saturday's Euro 2008 Qualifers' Results :

Scotland 1 Italy 2
Israel 2 Russia 1
Wales 2 Republic of Ireland 2
N Ireland 2 Denmark 1
FYR Macedonia 2 Croatia 0
Portugal 1 Armenia 0
Finland 2 Azerbaijan 1
Poland 2 Belgium 0
Lithuania 2 Ukraine 0
Greece 5 Malta 0
Moldova 3 Hungary 0
Norway 1 Turkey 2
Czech Rep 3 Slovakia 1
Germany 4 Cyprus 0
Andorra 0 Estonia 2
Spain 3 Sweden 0
Latvia 4 Liechtenstein 1
Holland 1 Luxembourg 0
Albania 2 Belarus 4
Bulgaria 1 Romania 0