Football: Bleak, freak German show

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The Independent Online
HAKAN SUKUR'S freak goal for Turkey 21 minutes from time enabled his side to record a stunning 1-0 defeat of Germany in Bursa in Group Three of the Euro 2000 qualifying tournament last night.

Abdullah Ercan sent in a long ball and the German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn raced out for it but collided with his sweeper Jens Nowotny. Kahn fumbled another attempt to punch it away, putting the ball on to Hakan's head, and it then bounced off the post, hit the clumsy Kahn and rolled over the line.

Arsenal's Nicolas Anelka scored after 13 minutes to put France ahead in their Group Four qualifier against Russia in Moscow. And when Robert Pires made it 2-0 16 minutes later they looked en route for their first win. But a strike from Igor Yanovsky on the stroke of half-time gave the hosts heart and they equalised 10 minutes into the second half through Alexander Mostovoi. But Alain Boghossian, a half-time substitute for Emmanuel Petit, scored with eight minutes remaining to give France a 3- 2 away win and all three points. Ukraine lead the group after winning 2-0 in Andorra with strikes from Vitali Kosovski and Serhiy Rebrov.

Alessandro Del Piero rediscovered his scoring touch to hit both goals in Italy's 2-0 defeat of Switzerland in Wales' group.

Del Piero, who had scored only once in his previous 17 competitive matches put the Azzurri ahead with a classic striker's goal after 19 minutes, collecting a pass by the Roma midfielder Eusebio Di Francesco and sweeping the ball past the Swiss goalkeeper Andreas Hilfiker. He added his second just after the hour with one of his trademark free-kicks from just outside the penalty area.

In Group Two, Latvia are the surprise leaders with maximum points after two games. They followed their 3-1 defeat of Norway in Oslo with a 1-0 win over Georgia in Riga when Marian Pahar scored the game's only goal after eight minutes.

Bryan Robson, the manager of Middlesbrough, yesterday admitted Paul Gascoigne was struggling to cope with stress and drink problems, and pledged to help the midfielder overcome his personal crisis.

"Gazza has got a problem," admitted Robson, a former England team-mate of Gascoigne's. "It's been building up for quite a few years. Everybody keeps talking about the drink and it's a little bit of that because he does get down at times. We spoke about it yesterday and we're trying to do something about it. What we're doing about it is private between Gazza, the club and myself.

"We're going to try to help the lad. We're not like some other people saying they want to help him, because they've done nothing but try to destroy him for the last six weeks. There's no help coming from the outside."

Gascoigne has endured a traumatic year, with his divorce from Sheryl, being omitted from England's World Cup squad and seeing his close friend David Cheek die.