Football: Swedish win leaves England well behind

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S HOPES of qualifying automatically for Euro 2000 suffered a heavy blow last night when a Fredrik Ljungberg goal earned Sweden a 1-0 win in Poland to maintain their 100 per-cent record in Group Five of the qualifying competition.

Sweden now have 12 points from their four matches, five points ahead of England and six ahead of Poland. The winner came in the 36th minute when the Arsenal midfielder delivered a shot which went between the Polish goalkeeper's legs. Sweden were rarely threatened during a match they dominated and England's hopes may now rest with the play-offs.

In the group's other match, Bulgaria's veteran captain Hristo Stoichkov scored early to lead his side to a 2-0 win over Luxembourg, Ivailo Iordanov adding a second.

Italy were held to a shock 1-1 draw at home by Belarus to surrender their 100 per-cent record in Group One. Belarus stunned their hosts by taking the lead through the Dynamo Kiev midfielder Valentin Belkevich after 24 minutes. Italy equalised seven minutes later with a Filippo Inzaghi penalty but, overall, the Azzurri were outplayed.

Ukraine and Iceland maintained their unbeaten records when they drew 1-1 in their Group Four qualifying match in Kiev yesterday. Ukraine took the lead after 59 minutes through Vladislav Vashchyuk, but were shocked by an equaliser from Stoke City's Larus Sigurdsson. France joined Ukraine at the head of the group with a 2-0 win over Armenia thanks to goals from Sylvain Wiltord and Christophe Dugarry.