Football: Denmark rely on touch of Laudrup to deny Latvia: World Cup qualifiers

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The Independent Online
DENMARK overtook the Republic of Ireland in World Cup Group Three by beating Latvia 2-0 in Copenhagen last night. The European champions hit the woodwork four times before scoring twice in the last 22 minutes, through Kim Vilfort and Mark Strudal. The Danes now lie second behind Spain on goal difference. The Republic are a point behind but have played fewer games.

The Danish goalkeeper, Manchester United's Peter Schmeichel, was rarely troubled as the hosts, guided brilliantly by Brian Laudrup, took the game to their Baltic opposition. 'He (Laudrup) reduced the Latvian defenders to slalom poles in demonstrating his unique technique,' Denmark's coach, Richard Moller Nielsen, said.

In Group Four, Cyprus nearly did Wales a favour in Bucharest. Cyprus took the lead against Wales's rivals, Romania, before falling 2-1. Ilie Dumitrescu, the Steaua Bucharest midfielder, struck either side of half-time.

A goal in each half by Sergei Kiriakov steered Russia to a 4-0 victory over Luxembourg to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group Five.

In Trieste, Italy attacked throughout against Estonia but could only score twice in their Group One qualifier. Despite the unimpressive victory, Italy vaulted over Switzerland into first place. Roberto Baggio, David Platt's club-mate at Juventus, settled Italian nerves with a splendid goal after 20 minutes.

Lazio's Giuseppe Signori, the leading scorer in Serie A, made it two in the 87th minute with a delightful hooked volley from Baggio's lay-off.

Lithuania kept alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the World Cup finals yesterday when they beat Albania 3-1 in a Group Three tie. The Albanians conceded two goals in five minutes midway through the first half and then had the defender Gjergji Dema sent off for a crude foul.

The victory lifts Lithuania into fourth place in the seven-team group with seven points from seven games, two points behind Spain who are the group's leaders.