Football: Poles hang on to three points

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The Independent Online
POLAND, WHO have never appeared in the finals of the European Championship, won 3-2 in Luxembourg last night to increase their advantage over third-placed England to three points in Group Five of the qualifying tournament. Sweden, the group leaders, did not play yesterday.

Poland built up a 3-0 lead against Luxembourg with goals from Rafal Siadaczka, Artur Wichniarek and Tomasz Iwan, but the home side came back with two late goals from Marc Birsens and Jean Vanek to keep the outcome in doubt until the final whistle. The Poles rarely found top form, but they will now consider themselves favourites to seal a play-off place at England's expense.

In Group Nine, Scotland's section, Estonia were beaten 2-1 at home in Tallinn by their Baltic rivals, Lithuania.

Andres Oper gave Estonia the lead in the 10th minute but Lithuania turned the game around with two goals in four minutes early in the second half, from Tomas Bahelis and Darius Maciulevicius.

In the same section the Faroe Islands and Bosnia drew 2-2 in Toftir. Elvir Balic gave the Balkan side an early lead but two goals from Uni Arge put the Faroes ahead just after the break. Balic soon levelled for Bosnia, though. The Bosnians, the Scots and the Lithuanians are now level on points, 13 points behind the group leaders, the Czech Republic, who last night became the first country to qualify for the finals.

Andorra made the world champions, France, fight all the way for a hard- fought 1-0 win in a Group Four game played at Barcelona's Olympic Stadium. The French, beaten 3-2 at home by Russia on Saturday, won with a late penalty by Chelsea's Franck Leboeuf in a match marred by red cards for France's Christophe Dugarry after only 24 minutes and Andorra's Tony Lima six minutes from time.

The result lifted France into second place, one point behind the leaders Ukraine, who drew 0-0 in Armenia. Russia moved into contention with a 1-0 win over Iceland in Moscow, which was Iceland's first defeat in 11 matches.