Football: Tomasson double puts Denmark on the path to finals

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DENMARK PLAYED what their coach Bo Johansson described as "the perfect match" on Saturday to thrash Israel 5-0 and effectively earn their place in Euro 2000.

"Often you don't know what will happen in football. Today my men played perfectly, everything went our way, and we got a result we couldn't have dreamed of earlier," he said.

A second-minute goal by Jon Dahl Tomasson set the side on their way, leaving Israel with scant hope of making a game of it during the return play-off leg in Copenhagen on Wednesday.

Tomasson, the former Newcastle United striker, made it 2-0 in the 35th minute when he was again given too much space in the penalty area.

Israel's coach, Shlomo Scharf, tried to change tack, bringing on Yossi Benayoun for Yossi Abuksis and Idan Tal for the rusty Ran Ben-Shimon in the 37th minute, but it proved to be a hopeless cause.

Haim Revivo's sending off in the 58th minute sounded the death knell for the Israelis and allowed the Danes to relax a little. Revivo, one of the mainstays of the Israeli team, brought down the Chelsea defender Jes Hogh from behind and the English referee, David Elleray, had no hesitation in reaching for the red card.

Stig Toefting marked his return from injury with a cracking goal from a free kick on the left, and Martin Jorgensen headed a high ball over the advancing Dudu Awat and into the net. Brian Steen Nielsen sealed the result with a powerful 73rd-minute shot.

Scharf denied he would be stepping down after the match on Wednesday. "I feel miserable. The players tried, but this was their worst performance under my guidance," he said.

An amazing long-range goal from nearly the half-way line by the substitute Milenko Acimovic gave outsiders Slovenia a surprise 2-1 victory over Ukraine in the first leg of their Euro 2000 play-off.

The Milan striker Andrei Shevchenko had put hot favourites Ukraine ahead in the 33rd minute but Zlatko Zahovic equalised 20 minutes later.

Ukraine ended the match with nine men as Dmitry Parfenov was sent off for a second bookable offence on the hour and Andriy Gusin followed him in the last minute.

"I have never scored a goal like that before and I still can't believe I did it," Acimovic said, the Red Star Belgrade midfielder and a half- time substitute for Saso Udovic. "But I am confident, and I believe that we can reach the European championship finals," he added.

The Ukraine coach, Josef Szabo, said: "Slovenia absolutely deserved the victory, but I am not going to comment on the second goal, it is something that rarely happens."