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Football: Welsh hopes shattered by Tomasson

A REMARKABLE fightback by Denmark in Naples last night put paid to Wales' hopes of reaching the European Championship finals.

A penalty by Martin Jorgensen and goals from Morten Wieghorst and Jon Dahl Tomasson enabled the Danes to come from 2-0 down to beat Italy 3- 2, replace them as the leaders of Group One, and eliminate Wales.

The Italians led thanks to first-half goals by Diego Fuser and Christian Vieri, who capitalised on an error by Peter Schmeichel, but Jorgensen netted his penalty before the break after a foul by Fabio Cannavaro. Wieghorst levelled the scores after 57 minutes and Tomasson, the former Newcastle striker, scored the third goal six minutes later for the Danes, who had Celtic's Wieghorst sent off with nine minutes to go. Italy's Giuliano Giannichedda was dismissed in the 88th minute.

As well as Sweden securing their place from England's group with a 1- 0 victory in Luxembourg last night, courtesy of Sheffield Wednesday's Niclas Alexandersson, Norway ensured their place in the finals with a 4-0 victory over Slovenia. Tottenham's Steffen Iversen and Oyvind Leonhardsen scored a goal each, with Manchester United's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer adding another.

The World Cup winners, France, improved their chance of qualifying by coming from behind to secure a precious 3-2 victory against Armenia in Yerevan last night. The world champions, below-par throughout, looked as if they would struggle to take all three points until a brilliant 25- yard shot from Zinedine Zidane in the 67th minute. With the score level at 1-1, he ran on to a Youri Djorkaeff knock-down and fired a left-foot shot inside the far post. Lilian Laslandes made it 3-1 six minutes later.

The late strikes came as a relief to France after a shock fifth-minute goal by Karapet Mikayelyan, who beat the French offside trap and slid the ball past Fabien Barthez from the edge of the penalty area. France were handed an equaliser seconds before half-time when Laurent Blanc was fouled by Vardan Khatchatrian and Djorkaeff, given a hero's welcome before the match because of his Armenian ancestry, converted the penalty. Armenia scored a penalty of the own in the last minute.

Ukraine's victory in Iceland, sealed with a penalty by Serhiy Rebrov shortly before half-time after a foul on Andriy Shevchenko, kept them on top of the group with 19 points, one more than France and Russia, who beat Andorra 2-1 away, with both their goals by Viktor Onopko. All have one game to play.

Savo Milosevic, once of Aston Villa, took only 10 seconds to score for Yugoslavia in their 4-2 victory over Macedonia in the Republic of Ireland's group. The result puts the Yugoslavs two points ahead of Croatia, with those two due to meet in October in Zagreb. Victory then would put Yugoslavia into the finals for the first time since they were barred in 1992 because of United Nations sanctions over the war in Bosnia.