Italy to poleaxe English hopes

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Italy, with a win at Wembley already secured, can turn the Group Two screw by beating Poland at Chorzow in their World Cup qualifier on Wednesday evening. Stand-in Christian Vieri, seemed to complement, rather than hinder, the many talents on show in Italy's 3-0 victory over Moldova on Saturday and, at evens with the Tote, Italy look sure things.

Scotland put up a reasonable show to beat Estonia two-nil at Kilmarnock on Saturday but will surely find Austria a different proposition at Celtic Park. Austria have won two of their three Group Four matches so far and, at 11-5 with William Hill, look a good bet to gain a draw.

Cyprus, who held Russia to a 1-1 draw on Saturday, look a tempting wager at 11-2 with the Tote to gain a draw in their Group Five game against Bulgaria in Sofia.

Holland, 4-0 winners at home to San Marino on Saturday, look a solid wager at 4-6 with William Hill and the Tote to beat Turkey in their Group Seven encounter in Ankara. Holland have a 100 per cent record so far in their qualifying matches and seem to have left their dismal Euro 96 form well behind.

Romania, fresh from the 8-0 drubbing they gave Liechtenstein on Saturday, should make short work of Lithuania in their Group Eight game in Vilnius. William Hill and the Tote both offer 4-6.

Macedonia might dent the Republic Of Ireland's prospects in Skopje in the same group. Macedonia, 100-30 with the Tote, have a couple successes to their credit and are surely overpriced on home soil.

Ukraine will be a tough nut for Northern Ireland to crack, playing at home in their Group Nine game in Kiev. At 8-15 with William Hill and the Tote, the side that beat Albania 1-0 on Saturday looks a solid proposition.