Football: Karpin flattens France

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The Independent Online
VALERI KARPIN exacted revenge on the world champions yesterday when he scored a brilliant winner in Russia's 3-2 victory over France in a European Championship qualifying match in Paris. The result avenged Russia's home defeat by the French by the same margin earlier in the Group Four campaign.

Russia were the last team to beat France when they edged a World Cup warm-up match 1-0 in Moscow 14 months ago. This time Alexander Panov scored twice, including a superb 75th-minute equaliser after Arsenal's Emmanuel Petit and Sylvain Wiltord had give France the lead early in the second half. Petit struck home a free-kick, while Wiltord scored after a solo run from inside his own half.

The defeat left France in third place in their group, while reviving Russia's hopes of reaching the Euro 2000 finals. France are three points behind Ukraine, who beat Andorra 4-0 at home with four headers, and one behind Iceland, 2-0 winners over Armenia. Russia are fourth, two points behind the French.

The Chelsea forward Tore Andre Flo scored a late goal to give Norway a 2-1 win over Albania in their Group Two qualifier and strengthen Norway's chances of reaching the finals. Flo headed in from a corner in the 83rd minute to settle the match after Albania's Igli Tare had cancelled out the Tottenham striker Steffen Iversen's early opener. The result gave Norway their fifth consecutive victory to keep them at the top of the group on 16 points.

Greece remain in second place behind Norway after Nikos Machlas took advantage of a goalkeeping error and scored in the last minute to give them a 2-1 victory over Georgia. Newcastle's Temuri Ketsbaia put Georgia ahead 11 minutes into the second half after dribbling through the Greek defence and beating the keeper. Dimitris Mavrogennidis equalised for Greece in the 86th minute.

Georgi Hristov came off the bench to snatch a late 1-1 draw for Macedonia against Croatia in their Group Eight qualifier. The former Barnsley man latched on to a loose ball in the area in the 80th minute. The Croatians had opened the scoring through Davor Suker in the 19th minute.

The Czech Republic's 2-0 victory in Estonia in their Group Nine game means they are the only side in the tournament to have won all of their matches. The Czechs' opener came in the 46th minute when Liverpool's Patrik Berger drove the ball cleanly into the net from the edge of the box. Karel Poborsky put the game beyond doubt seven minutes before the end.

Wales slump, page 4