France, Portugal and Russia have World Cup places in sight

November 15, 2009 5:39 pm 

LONDON, Nov. 15 — France, Portugal and Russia all moved closer to next year's World Cup finals with first leg playoff wins on Saturday.

France, runners-up in Germany in 2006, beat Ireland 1-0 in Dublin with a late deflected goal from Nicolas Anelka, and start as favorites to finish the job in Paris on Wednesday.

Portugal beat Bosnia 1-0 in Lisbon with a Bruno Alvaes header in the first half, while two goals from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov put Russia 2-0 up against Slovenia who scored a vital away goal three minutes from time when substitute Nejc Pecnik headed home to make the final score 2-1.

Greece and Ukraine drew 0-0 in the first leg of their playoff in Athens, with Ukraine now favorites to take control of the tie at home in Donetsk on Wednesday.

New Zealand's long wait to return to the finals for the first time since 1982 also came to fruition as they sealed their place in next year's extravaganza in South Africa with a 1-0 win in the second leg of their Asia/Oceania playoff against Bahrain to win the tie 1-0 on aggregate.

In Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon qualified for the finals but Egypt and Algeria must play off in Sudan on Wednesday after finishing with identical records in their qualifying group.

In a match of unrelenting drama in Cairo, Egypt beat Algeria 2-0 with their second vital goal coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time with Algeria just seconds away from the finals. (PNA/Xinhua)

DCT/rsm

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