Joe Cole may have gladdened the hearts of Chelsea fans with his performance for England yesterday but there was bad news for them from Romania where the west London club's winger, Arjen Robben, suffered another injury during Holland's 2-0 victory.
Robben, just back in action after more than a month out injured, limped off after 21 minutes and looks likely to miss Holland's group one qualifier against Armenia on Wednesday. He could be out for much longer. "He has something wrong with his calf," Holland's coach, Marco van Basten, said. "I am not exactly sure how bad the injury is, except that it looks serious."
From Chelsea's point of view, the danger is that he could miss the Champions' League quarter-final against Bayern Munich on 5 April.
Holland went ahead through Phillip Cocu's first-minute goal and Robben's replacement, Ryan Babel, sealed victory by scoring the second five minutes from time.
The Dutch lead the group by one point from the Czech Republic, who won a thrilling match 4-3 at home to Finland. Liverpool's Milan Baros set the Czechs going after seven minutes and Tomas Rosicky, who may be on his way to Tottenham, added the second and set up the third for Jan Polak.
Jari Litmanen, once of Liverpool, pulled one back, and goals from Crystal Palace's Aki Riihilahti and Charlton's Jonatan Johansson made it 3-3 before Vratislav Lokvenc snatched the winner.
England still lead group six by one point from Poland, who thrashed Azerbaijan 8-0, with Tomasz Frankowski netting a hat-trick and Marek Saganowski scoring twice.
The Republic of Ireland's disappointment at drawing 1-1 in Israel was eased by France's 0-0 draw with Switzerland, leaving placings unchanged in group four.
Players based in North London stole the glory in Sofia, where Sweden beat 10-man Bulgaria 3-0, the home side having Georgi Markov sent off after 59 minutes. Arsenal's Freddie Ljungberg met a cross by Southampton's Anders Svensson and curled in a 17th-minute shot to set the group eight leaders on their way, and scored again from the penalty spot after the Spurs left-back, Erik Edman, cracked home a free-kick in the 75th minute.
Croatia moved ahead of the Bulgarians into second place in the group with a 4-0 victory over Iceland, the Rangers striker Dado Prso scoring the last goal.
In group two, Greece cut Ukraine's advantage to three points by coming from behind to win 3-1 in Georgia, where Bolton's Stelios Giannakopoulos scored the third.
Stelios's Bolton team-mates El-Hadji Diouf, twice, and Khalilou Fadiga found the net as Senegal beat Liberia 6-1 in Dakar. Henri Camara, of Southampton, also scored.
In Johannesburg, Manchester United's Quinton Fortune scored a penalty as South Africa beat Uganda 2-1, while in Lagos Nwankwo Kanu, of West Bromwich, scored one goal and set up the other as Nigeria beat Gabon 2-0.
In a friendly Germany, the hosts of the 2006 finals, struggled to a 1-0 win in Slovenia, where the 19-year-old striker Lukas Podolski scored.
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