Football: Kiev nightmare for Kharin

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THE CHELSEA goalkeeper, Dmitri Kharin, was sent off as Russia went down 3-2 away against Ukraine in their European Championship Group Four qualifier.

Kharin, left exposed by a poor back header by Yuri Kovtun, brought down Serhiy Rebrov in the box in the 73rd minute and was dismissed. Rebrov hit the penalty past the replacement goalkeeper, Stanislav Cherchesov, to guarantee the home side victory.

Ukraine led 2-0 at half-time after goals from Serhiy Popov and Serhiy Skachenko in the 14th and 24th minutes. But they were unable to capitalise on a string of chances and Yevgeny Varlamov put Russia back in the match in the 67th minute, latching on to a free-kick from the substitute Alexander Mostovoi. Russia were given a glimmer of hope when Mostovoi's free-kick was headed home by Viktor Onopko three minutes from time but it was just too late.

The staying power of the Spain coach, Javier Clemente, will be severely tested yet gain after his World Cup flops were embarrassed by Cyprus in their Group Six qualifier.

The unfancied Cypriots outplayed their illustrious visitors from the kick-off and deserved the 3-2 final score, their most important victory in international competition.

Panayiotis Engomitis opened the scoring for Cyprus just before half- time with a superb chip and the islanders went 2-0 ahead just after the break, Sinica Gogic slotting home Milenko Spoljaric's pass.

Spain came back with a goal from Raul Gonzalez but Cyprus put the game out of reach with their third from Spoljaric. Not even a late Spanish surge and Fernando Morientes' last-ditch strike could prevent the Cypriot celebrations.

Iceland held the world champions France 1-1 in their European Championship Group Four qualifier.

The French, playing under their new coach Roger Lemerre, needed an equaliser from Christophe Dugarry to secure a point after a blunder by Fabien Barthez let in Iceland's Rikhardur Dadason for the opening goal. Barthez fumbled a high free-kick from the left by Runar Kristinsson and Dadason headed into an empty net in the 33rd minute.

France were at last stung into action and within three minutes they equalised when Dugarry struck the ball home from close range after Robert Pires' fierce shot was turned against the post by the goalkeeper Birkir Kristinsson.

Borussia Dortmund's Christian Nerlinger scored just four minutes from time to salvage a 1-1 draw for Germany in a lacklustre friendly with Romania. Viorel Moldovan opened the scoring with a 35th-minute penalty after a Jens Jeremies handled in the area.