Vienna humiliation leaves Domenech feeling the heat

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The Independent Online

Raymond Domenech held on to his job by his fingertips after leading France through a diabolical Euro 2008. They were hammered by the Dutch, drew with Romania and lost to Italy, scoring just one goal in the process before heading home. It was a surprise the French federation stuck with their coach and it may be regretting that decision today after France were humbled 3-1 in Austria in their opening World Cup qualification match on Saturday.

It proved to be the only major upset on a day when holders Italy snatched a 2-1 stoppage-time win in Cyprus, European champions Spain edged Bosnia 1-0 and Germany crushed Liechtenstein 6-0.

Domenech had promised that France would come out fighting in Vienna after limping out of Euro 2008. However, goals from Marc Janko, Rene Aufhauser and Andreas Ivanschitz left them reeling in Group Seven as Austria marked the first competitive game of new coach Karel Brückner with a stunning win. "It's never nice to lose," Domenech said.

"I have my feelings about what happened but I need to watch the game on video to confirm my impressions."

World champions Italy made a stuttering start as Marcello Lippi began a second term in charge of the Azzurri, having steered them to 2006 World Cup glory over France. Two goals from Antonio Di Natale, the second a stoppage-time winner, earned a 2-1 victory over Cyprus in their Group Eight opener in Larnaca.

The former Real Madrid coach Vicente Del Bosque began his reign as coach of Spain with a home victory in Group Five against Bosnia, courtesy of David Villa's second-half strike. Del Bosque took over from Luis Aragones after Spain's Euro 2008 final victory over Germany.

The Germans were far more convincing on Saturday in their Group Four demolition of Liechtenstein, helped by two goals from Lukas Podolski, either side of half-time.

Elsewhere, Euro 2008 semi-finalists Turkey beat Armenia 2-0 in Group Five.

There were disappointing starts for Romania, Poland and Sweden, all of whom played at Euro 2008. Romania were humbled 3-0 at home by Lithuania in Group Seven, Sweden were held 0-0 by Albania in Tirana in Group One and Poland drew 1-1 at home to Slovenia in Group Three.

In England's group, Croatia beat Kazakhstan 3-0 in Zagreb. Slaven Bilic's team took charge early on against the Group Six minnows and their win included a goal for Tottenham new boy Luka Modric. Niko Kovac put the hosts ahead after 13 minutes and Modric doubled the advantage in the 36th minute. Mladen Petric completed the scoring after 79 minutes as Croatia cruised to victory over the team which beat Andorra 3-0 in their opening qualifier last month.

In the same group, Ukraine began their campaign with a 1-0 home win over Belarus, secured by Andrei Shevchenko's 90th-minute penalty.

Scotland's Group Nine rivals Norway and Iceland drew 2-2 in Oslo. Former Tottenham and Wolves striker Steffen Iversen scored twice for hosts Norway, who twice led before being pegged back. The Rosenborg striker put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot in the 36th minute but the lead was short-lived as Bolton's Heidar Helguson equalised three minutes later. Iversen scored his second five minutes after the restart but former Chelsea forward Eidur Gudjohnsen equalised again in the 69th minute.

Former Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz saw his Portugal side get their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a flying start with a 4-0 win over Malta in Group One. Hugo Almeida, Simao Sabrosa and Nani added some shine to the scoreline in the final 30 minutes after Brian Said had put through his own net to give the visitors a first-half lead.

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