Netherlands and France continue to dominate their groups, Italy leads after win in Slovenia

Netherlands and France continue to dominate their groups, Italy leads after win in Slovenia

The Netherlands and France continued to dominate their Euro qualifying groups on Friday with victories, dpa reported.

The Dutch won 4-0 in Hungary, while France beat Luxembourg 2-0.

There were also good wins for Belgium (2-0 in Austria) and Serbia (2-1 against Northern Ireland).

The Dutch, who last year lost the World Cup final to Spain, had an ideal start in Budapest, as Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring in the 8th minute.

Ibrahim Afellay doubled his side's lead in first half-half injury time and Dirk Kuyt and Robin Van Persie gave the visitors a convincing 4-0 victory that sees them top Group E with a maximum 15 points from their five matches.

Hungary are second with nine points - three ahead of Sweden and Moldova, who have played two and one game less though respectively and meet on Tuesday.

Philippe Mexes and Yoann Gourcuff scored for France in Luxembourg to give the Les Bleus a four point lead in Group D from Belarus and puts them well in line for a place at next years' finals in Ukraine and Poland.

In Group A, where table-topping Germany face Kazakhstan on Saturday, Belgium moved into second place ahead of Austria with a 2-0 victory in Vienna.

Axel Witsel scored both goals for the visitors, who moved to seven points from their five matches. Austria are on the same number of points, but have played a game less.

In Group C Thiago Motta scored Italy's winner in the 73rd minute off a pass from defender Federico Balzaretti.

Italy's coach Cesare Prandelli said that the win gave his team "further stimulus although we have a lot to work. Of course a win helps improve your self esteem.

"Already at half-time the boys felt they could continue on with their good game. However, we are not at all certain to qualify."

In the other game in the group in Belgrade Gareth McAuley gave Northern Ireland a 1-0 half-time against Serbia, which Marko Pantelic equalized in the 65th minute.

Zoran Tosic scored the winner for the home side in the 74th minute.

Northern Irish captain Chris Brunt said the players were gutted by the defeat. "It is the same old story, we go a goal up, but then can't hold onto it. We have let ourselves down and it is disappointing.

"Ultimately we were not good enough in the second half.

The match was played behind closed doors with just 265 people in the stadium after Serbian fans clashed earlier in the qualifiers in Italy, but Brunt said they had not made that count.

"When the game starts, you just get on with it. It should have been a plus for us because the Serbian fans are pretty wild. In the first half it was, but then in the second we were not in it."

Italy lead the group with 10 points, ahead of Slovenia and Serbia, who both have seven.

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