Football: Italy three points clear

Italy took a three-point lead over England in World Cup qualifying Group Two yesterday by beating Moldova 3-0 in Trieste.

Always in control, they went ahead through Paolo Maldini after 24 minutes, and were assured of victory by the Chelsea forward Gianfranco Zola and Christian Vieri, who marked his debut with his country's 1,000th international goal. The victory puts them on 12 points from four games, with England on nine, and Poland third on three points.

Gica Popescu, who enjoyed a brief flirtation with English football in a Tottenham shirt, had a field day yesterday as Romania cruised to an 8-0 victory against Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifying Group Eight match.

Romania maintained their 100 per cent record in the group with four wins out of four. Going into Wednesday's game against Lithuania they lead Republic of Ireland by five points.

Pierre van Hooijdonk scored as the Netherlands overcame stubborn San Marino 4-0 in Amsterdam in Group Seven. The Dutch were held goalless until a minute before half-time.

Cyprus held Russia 1-1 in Paralimni in Group Five, going ahead through Sinica Gogic only for Russia to hit back within a minute through Igor Simutenkov.