Shevchenko's double shifts play-off balance

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The Independent Football

Andriy Shevchenko scored twice to resurrect Ukraine's World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory away to Belarus and improve their chances of finishing second in group five and facing the runner-up in England's group.

Unfortunately for Ukraine, their victory had the effect of ensuring that their arch-rivals and neighbours, Poland, won the group and qualified for the finals for the first time in 16 years. Poland demolished Norway 3-0 in Warsaw.

Shevchenko scored once in each half to lift Ukraine into second place, one point ahead of Belarus with two games left to play. The Milan striker put Ukraine ahead just before the interval from a pass by Sergei Rebrov and added the second with a shot that ricocheted off a Belarus defender, sending the goalkeeper Vasili Khomutovski the wrong way and Belarus to their first home defeat of the campaign.

Poland secured their place in the finals with goals from Pawel Kryszalowicz, Emmanuel Olisadebe and Michal Zewlakow but a 3-0 win had looked unlikely as Norway dominated early on.

Jerzy Dudek, one of the two goalkeepers Liverpool signed on Friday, pulled off crucial saves from Oyvind Leonhardsen and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before Poland scored against the run of play right on half-time. After Henning Berg's stumble, Kryszalowicz lifted his shot over Thomas Myrhe and Poland then took control. Marek Kozminski broke down the left after 75 minutes and crossed for Olisadebe to side-foot the second. Another blunder, by the defender Andre Bergdolmo, let in Zewlakow to score the third.

Iceland's captain, Eyjolfur Sverrisson, scored twice as his side pulled off a shock in group three by winning 3-1 at home to the Czech Republic, who had their giant striker, Jan Koller, sent off in the 39th minute for spitting at Arnar Vidarsson.

Turkey and Sweden continue to contest the automnatic spot from group four after both won again. Celtic's Henrik Larsson inspired the Swedes by striking home a free-kick in their 2-1 win over Macedonia, while Hakan Sukur's goal gave Turkey a 1-0 win in Slovakia.

Slovenia threw group one wide open by beating the leaders Russia, 2-1, with a last-minute penalty by Mile Acimovic. Yugoslavia boosted their chances in that section by winning 2-1 in Switzerland, where Savo Milosevic opened the scoring.

In the Concacaf zone Honduras beat the United States 3-2 in Washingon DC, the first home defeat inqualifying for the United States in 20 matches and the first time they had conceded three goals in a qualifier in 34 matches stretching back to 1960.

The world champions, France, lost 2-1 to Chile in a friendly match in Santiago, where David Trézéguet pulled a goal back after they went two down early in the second half.

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