EURO 2008 - CYPRUS HOLD MIGHTY GERMANY


Paris: Cyprus pro duced the landmark performance of Wednesday’s batch of Euro 2008 qualifiers when the Mediterranean minnows held mighty Germany to a 1-1 draw in Nicosia.

Captain Michael Ballack gave Germany a 15 minute lead but Cyprus, a yawning 73 rungs below them on Fifa’s world rankings, fought back courageously with Yiannakis Okkas’ first-time volley from the edge of the area just before the break earning them a deserved share of the spoils.

Despite squandering a forecast three points Germany at least left Cyprus with the consolation of moving top of Group D ahead of the Czech Republic on goal dif ference.

Cyprus are placed fourth with in fifth the Republic of Ireland who bade farewell to their creaking stadium at Lansdowne Road with a 5-0 rout over San Marino.

Germany coach Joachim Low accepted the result was not what he had expected.

“It’s obvious we are not pleased. This was a tough and at times physical games,” he said.

However, he did concede that it was a “fair result” and warned the other teams in the group it will be “difficult playing in Nicosia”.

Cyprus manager Angelos Anastasiades cut an altogether happier figure, this draw coming after his side’s 5-2 mauling of Ireland in their last game on home turf.

A German fan ran on to the pitch at the start of the second half and stole the ball from the centre spot, his countrymen maybe wishing the game never restarted. Over in Dublin Ire land cruised past San Marino courtesy of a Robbie Keane hat-trick, with Andy Reid and Kevin Doyle also getting on the scoresheet.

Despite the lop-sided scoreline and Keane’s heroics, it was still a drab end for a drab stadium which is due to be knocked down early next year and replaced with the sort of modern 50,000seater arena Irish football so desperately needs.

In Group E, England slipped a place to third as a result of Russia’s 2-0 win over Macedonia.

Croatia pulled clear at the top with a 4-3 win in Tel Aviv.

In Group A, Finland went a point clear of Serbia after a 1-0 win over Armenia, with Portugal placed third after seeing off Kazakhstan 3-0. RESULTS RUSSIA . . . . . . . . . . . .2 MACEDONIA . . . . . . . . .0 CYPRUS . . . . . . . . . . . .1 GERMANY . . . . . . . . . .1 CROATIA . . . . . . . . . . .4 ISRAEL . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 FINLAND . . . . . . . . . . .1 ARMENIA . . . . . . . . . . .0 IRELAND . . . . . . . . . . .5 SAN MARINO . . . . . . . .0 POLAND . . . . . . . . . . . .1 BELGIUM . . . . . . . . . . .0 PORTUGAL . . . . . . . . . .3 KAZAKHSTAN . . . . . . . .0

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