England and Serbia close on World Cup


PARIS, June 11 – England and Serbia both took significant strides towards the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with victories in their European qualifying matches on Wednesday.CROUCH_ENGLAND_843444179.jpg
Fabio Capello’s England brushed aside a limited challenge from minnows Andorra to win 6-0, while Serbia consigned the Faroe Islands to a 2-0 defeat.

England’s seventh straight win means they lead Group Six by 10 points from Croatia and Ukraine, while Serbia are eight points above second-placed France in Group Seven.

Man of the match Glen Johnson set up Wayne Rooney twice in the first half, first for a third-minute header and then a crisp volley, with Frank Lampard sweeping home Theo Walcott’s cut-back in between.

Rooney’s second was his eighth of the campaign, making him the top scorer in European qualifying, with substitute Jermain Defoe, twice, and Peter Crouch scoring late on to add a fitting gloss to the scoreline.

England can seal qualification for the World Cup with victory over Croatia in their next game.

Ukraine are now level on points with the Croats after coming from behind to secure a narrow 2-1 win at home to Kazakhstan.

Tanat Nuserbayev gave the visitors, who are ranked 132nd in the world, a surprise 19th-minute lead, only for Sergiy Nazarenko to score either side of half-time to rescue victory for Ukraine, who reached the last eight at the 2006 World Cup.

Standard Liege forward Milan Jovanovic scored just prior to half-time to put Serbia ahead in Torshavn, with centre-back Neven Subotic putting the match beyond the Faroe Islands with a second goal mid-way through the second-half.

Although eight points behind Radomir Antic’s side, France have two games in hand and travel to Serbia on September 9.

Earlier, forgotten man Aleksandr Kerzhakov struck twice as Russia won 3-0 in Finland to move to within a point of Group Four leaders Germany.

Dinamo Moscow striker Kerzakhov, recalled after an absence of almost 19 months, opened the scoring from Andrei Arshavin’s 27th-minute pass before converting a rebound early in the second half, with Konstantin Zyryanov capping an impressive victory in the 71st minute.

Guus Hiddink’s side host Germany in October in a game that could decide which team qualifies automatically for next summer’s showpiece and which team must make do with a place in the play-offs alongside the seven other best runners-up.

Sweden kept their slim qualification hopes intact with an emphatic 4-0 victory at home to Group One’s bottom side Malta, with goals from Kim Kallstrom, Daniel Majstorovic, star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Berg.

Lars Lagerback’s men are now level on nine points with third-placed Portugal, seven points behind group leaders Denmark but only four points off second-placed Hungary and a possible play-off place.

Group Nine leaders the Netherlands, who became the first European side to qualify for the World Cup when they beat Iceland 2-1 at the weekend, won 2-0 at home to winless Norway after strikes from PSV defender Andre Ooijer and Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben.

Macedonia beat Iceland 2-0 in Skopje to move level on points with second-placed Scotland.