An entertaining game in Bratislava saw the Slovaks threaten but the Turks...
An entertaining game in Bratislava saw the Slovaks threaten but the Turks take all three points...click here for a match report and a review of all of Saturday's games...
In Group Seven on Saturday evening, Turkey overcame Slovakia 1-0 thanks to a goal from in-form Real Sociedad striker Nihat Kahveci after12 minutes. The result lifts Senol Günes' side back to the top of the group, two points ahead of England, but having played a game more than Sven-Göran Eriksson's team, who entertain the Slovakians on Wednesday evening in Middlesbrough.
It was an entertaining encounter which Slovakia dominated without getting the goal that their play may have merited. Turkey once again looked slick, composed and talented.
The Turks started the game very quickly, forcing two corners and wide-free kick in the first five minutes.
Their short, quick passing movements caused the Slovaks some trouble and Kahveci opened the scoring after 12 minutes with a fine shot across the goalkeeper.
The Slovak number 10, Janocko, provided the inspiration for their fight-back with his direct runs and dribbles at the heart of the Turkish defence - England will need to watch out for him on Wednesday.
As the match wore on, the home side piled on increasing amounts of pressure - and won a succession of corners - but they were still unable to get the goal to prevent the Turks getting all three points and going to the top of the group.
Here's Slovakia's starting line-up: Konig, Petras, Zeman, Hlinka, Karhan, Demo, Labant, Nemeth, Michalik, Janocko, Klimpl.
Also playing in Group Seven on Saturday were fourth-placed F.Y.R. Macedonia and they saw off the challenge of bottom-of-the-table Liechtenstein 3-1 in Skopje.
However the biggest shock of the night came in Group Six in Zaragoza where runaway leaders Spain were beaten 1-0 by third-in-the-table Greece courtesy of Stelios Giannakopoulos's strike just before the interval, the home team's first defeat in qualifying. And second-placed Ukraine took full advantage of Spain's slip-up by moving level on nine points with Greece, and just a point behind the leaders Spain, with a 4-3 victory over Armenia in Lyiv, but only after defender Serhiy Fyodorovare netted a stoppage time-winner for the hosts.
Chelsea midfield player Jesper Grønkjaer scored the only goal of the game early on in Copenhagen as Denmark beat Scandinavian rivals Norway 1-0 to go to the head of Group Two, while Romania beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0 in Craiova, which all means that Morten Olsen's Denmark lead Norway only on a superior head-to-head record, while third-placed Romania are just a point further back.
In Group One on Saturday European champions France were not in action, giving both second-in-the-table Slovenia and Israel, in third, the chance to stake their claims for second spot in the table behind Les Bleus and Slovenia's goalless draw with Israel in Antalya maintained their two-point advantage over their hosts in the race to secure the runners-up berth, and with it a place in the play-offs.
Also playing in Group One on Saturday were last-placed Malta, who went down 2-1 in Valletta to Cyprus in a fixture of little consequence to either side.
Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert registered the 38th goal of his international career on Saturday in his countries Group Three qualifier in Minsk, a strike that made him the all-time leading goalscorer in Dutch football. Dick Advocat's side did a thoroughly professional job, emerging as 2-0 winners against Belarus, with former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars opening the scoring for the visitors in the second half, before his Barça team-mate sealed the win minutes later.
Meanwhile in Tiraspol, Viorel Frunze scored the only goal of the game on the hour mark to hand Moldova a surprise 1-0 win over Austria, although the outcome of the group is between the Netherlands, who currently lead second-placed Czech Republic by three points, but having played a game more than their rivals.
Group Four saw leaders Latvia beaten 3-1 in Budapest by Hungary and with Sweden overcoming lowly San Marino 6-0 in Serra Valle, Latvia now lead both Hungary and Sweden by just two points. Sweden's goals came from Mattias Jonson, who netted a hat-trick, Aston Villa striker Marcus Allbäck, who grabbed a brace and Arsenal midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg.
The big match in Group Five was played at Hampden Park as last summer's defeated World Cup finalists Germany travelled to Glasgow to play Scotland, who are coached by a German, Berti Vogts and perhaps fittingly the game ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
The visitors, who were champions of Europe in 1996, took a first-half lead when former Bolton Wanderers forward Fredi Bobic headed past Rab Douglas, only for in-form Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Kenny Miller to draw the home team level with a well-taken goal after half-time.
The result sees Rudi Völler's men continue to lead the way in the group from Scotland, who have played a game more than their opponents though, while Iceland made up ground on the pair with a 2-1 win over the Faroe Islands in Reykjavik in what was the first-ever fixture to be played between the two countries, leaving Germany and second-placed Scotland level on eight points and fourth-placed Iceland on six.
On Saturday evening Group Eight leaders Bulgaria were grateful to Portsmouth front man Svetoslav Todorov, whose late penalty earned his country a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw with Belgium in Sofia. However, second-in-the-table Estonia's 2-0 victory over lowly Andorra in Tallin on the same night meant that they are now only three points behind Bulgaria at the top of the table, while level on seven points in third and fourth places respectively are Croatia and Belgium.
There was just the one match played on Saturday in Group Nine, but the outcome was of great significance to Mark Hughes and his Wales team with Serbia and Montenegro, who lost 2-1 to England in a friendly last Tuesday, suffering a surprise 3-0 defeat in Helsinki to Finland thanks to goals from Liverpool skipper Sami Hyypiä, Joonas Kolkka and Mikael Forssell, although the visitors' hopes were not helped when centre-back Sinisa Mihajlovic was dismissed after just 26 minutes of the match. Dejan Savicevic's team consequently remain in third place in the table after four games played, still a massive seven points adrift of leaders Wales.
And finally in Group Ten on Saturday afternoon, new Republic of Ireland manager Brain Kerr continued the unbeaten start to his international managerial career when his side scored an injury-time winner to see off the challenge of a stubborn Albania team 2-1 at Lansdowne Road. Robbie Keane had given the home side a 1-0 lead, but after the visitors had equalised, it appeared as though the Republic would be thwarted in their attempts to make up ground on group leaders Switzerland, that is until an Albanian defender scored a crucial own goal with virtually the last kick of the match to hand the home team all three points. And with Switzerland and Russia sharing the spoils in a hard-fought 2-2 draw in Basle, a game in which the Russians found themselves trailing 2-0 at one point, the Republic have jumped up to third place in the group, level on points with second-in-the-table Russia and now only two points adrift of the first-placed Switzerland with everyone having played five fixtures.
Player of the Weekend: Patrick Kluivert
The former Ajax and current Barcelona striker is a veteran on the international arena at only 26 years of age and on Saturday evening in Minsk against Belarus he was on hand to record the 38th goal of an already illustrious international career for the Netherlands, a strike that broke a Dutch scoring record by making him the all-time leading marksman in his countries history.
From Richard Morgan and Daniel Freedman
Group 7 Standings