Saturday, 6 June 2009

[WC Qual] Group 8 stalemates help Italy

Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland were held to a 1-1 draw by Bulgaria in European Qualifying Group 8, boosting world champions Italy's path to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.

Bulgaria 1-1 Republic of IrelandSecond-placed Ireland are the Azzurri's main challengers for the automatic qualification spot, as they were sitting just two points behind the group leaders ahead of the crunch tie in Sofia tonight.

The 1-1 result leaves Trapattoni's men one point behind Marcello Lippi's Italy, despite having played a match more.

However, the result does mean the Irish are in an excellent position to qualify for at least the play-offs by finishing in the runner-up position, as Bulgaria remain five points adrift in third spot.

A win would have moved Ireland top of the group and Richard Dunne handed them the perfect start as he stole in unmarked from a Stephen Hunt free-kick to head the visitors into the lead after 24 minutes.

But a defensive mistake by Kevin Kilbane let Dimitar Telkiyski in for the equaliser five minutes later, and despite second half dominance from the Bulgarians, the match ended in stalemate.

Fourth-placed Cyprus and fifth-placed Montenegro are all but out of the running for qualification after the two nations played out a 2-2 draw in Larnaca.

The Cypriots had a two-goal first half lead thanks to Michael Konstantinou and a Chrysostomos Michail penalty, but a second half double from Dejan Damjanovic snatched a point for the visitors.

Italy, who will be taking part in the FIFA Confederations Cup tournament in South Africa next week, are next in qualifying action when they travel to Georgia on September 5, and then host Bulgaria four days later.

Group 8 Results:
Saturday 6 June
Bulgaria 1-1 Ireland
Cyprus 2-2 Montenegro

Group 8 Standings:
[1] ITA - PLD: 06 - PTS: 14
[2] IRE - PLD: 07 - PTS: 13
[3] BUL - PLD: 06 - PTS: 08
[4] CYP - PLD: 06 - PTS: 05
[5] MON - PLD: 06 - PTS: 04
[6] GEO - PLD: 07 - PTS: 03

Next Group 8 Fixtures:
Saturday 5 September
Bulgaria v Montenegro
Cyprus v Ireland
Georgia v Italy
Wednesday 9 September
Italy v Bulgaria
Montenegro v Cyprus

Group 1 Results:
Saturday 6 June
Albania 1-2 Portugal
Sweden 0-1 Denmark

Group 3 Results:
Saturday 6 June
Slovakia 7-0 San Marino

Group 4 Results:
Saturday 6 June
Azerbaijan 0-1 Wales
Finland 2-1 Liechtenstein

Group 6 Results:
Saturday 6 June
Belarus 5-1 Andorra
Croatia 2-2 Ukraine
Kazakhstan 0-4 England

Group 7 Results:
Saturday 6 June
Lithuania 0-1 Romania
Serbia 1-0 Austria

Group 9 Results:
Saturday 6 June
FYR Macedonia 0-0 Norway
Iceland 1-2 Netherlands

World Cup qualifiers so far:
Saturday 15 May 2004
South Africa (Africa 2010 Hosts)
Saturday 6 June 2009
Japan (Asia Round 4 Group 1), Australia (Asia Round 4 Group 1), South Korea (Asia Round 4 Group 2), Netherlands (Europe Group 9)

Source: UEFA

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