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INTERNATIONAL ROUND-UP

Posted on 12 September 2007  - 12:00

It was mixed fortunes for our players in European Championship qualfying action on Wednesday night.

It was mixed fortunes for our players in European Championship qualfying action on Wednesday night.

Paul Robinson and England were the big winners with a 3-0 victory in a key match against Russia at Wembley, making it two 3-0 wins and six points in a week.

Earning his 39th cap, Robbo made an important save from Bilyaletdinov when England led 1-0 but Steve McClaren's men were always in charge once Michael Owen put them ahead after eight minutes. Owen added a second before the break and Rio Ferdinand wrapped it up as England leapfrogged Russia into second place behind Croatia in Group E.

Teemu Tainio played the full 90 minutes as Finland stayed in the hunt for next summer's finals with a 0-0 draw against Group A leaders Poland in Helsinki. Rivals Portugal, who have a game in hand, also drew in Serbia, so Finland remain second, two points clear of the Portuguese.

Dimitar Berbatov netted twice and won a penalty as Bulgaria beat Luxembourg 3-0 in Sofia. Dimitar actually scored two goals in a minute in the first half - the opener a header from a free-kick, the second a chip over the keeper. He also played the full match. The win sees Bulgaria stay in third, two points behind joint-leaders Romania and Holland having played a game more. However, the leaders have to play each other and Bulgaria are also yet to face Romania at home.

It wasn't such good news for Robbie Keane and the Republic of Ireland. Having been denied a win in Slovakia by a last-minute goal on Saturday, the trip to Czech Republic was seen as a must-win game, but the Czechs took it 1-0 thanks to Marek Jankulovski's first-half winner. Robbie skippered the side and played the full 90 minutes. The result leaves the Czechs fully six points clear of Ireland in Group D, with leaders Germany a further two points away.

In the same group, Gareth Bale played the full match as Wales hammered Slovakia 5-2 in Trnava, avenging a 5-1 loss from the same side in Cardiff last year.

UNDER-21 ACTION

Younes Kaboul wore the captain's armband again as France Under-21s beat Malta 2-0 in European U21 Championship qualifying on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Kieran McKenna's Northern Ireland recovered from the shock of going 1-0 down to Luxembourg to run out 2-1 winners.