Dutch and Croats take major step towards finals

Dutch and Croats take major step towards finals

Kevin Strootman and Luuk de Jong scored twice for the Netherlands to give their side an important 2-0 victory against a ten-man Finland side in a Euro 2012 qualifier played in Reykjavik on Tuesday, dpa reported.

PSV Eindhoven midfielder Strootman scored in the 29th minute to give his side the lead at the half-way break.

Italian-based Perparim Hetemaj was sent off on the hour for the home side, making any hopes of getting a result from the match all but impossible against the top-ranked side in the world, who added a second through substitute de Jong three minutes into injury time.

The Oranjes lead Group E with a maximum 24 points from their eight games, while Finland have nine, Hungary are second after winning 2-0 in Moldova.

Vilmos Vanczak scored in the seventh minute and Gergely Rudolf added a second late in the second half to take the Hungarians to 18 points from eight matches, while Sweden are on 15 points.

If results later Tuesday go their way, the Dutch could become the second team after Germany to qualify for the finals next year in Ukraine and Poland.

Croatia moved to the top of Group F with a 3-1 come-back victory at home against Israel. Tomer Hemed gave the visitors the lead shortly before the break, but Luka Modric equalized for the Croats in the 47th minute.

Brazilian-born substitute Eduardo, who came on at the break, then scored twice within the space of two minutes in the 55th and 57th minute, shortly after defender Tal Ben Haim had been shown a straight red card.

Croatia are on 19 points from their eight games, while Greece, who drew 1-1 in Latvia, dropped to second with 17 points.

Bosnia and Herzegovina kept alive their hopes of advancing from Group D with a hard-fought 1-0 win at home against Belarus.

The visitors, who were just a point behind the Bosnians, were holding the visitors to a goalless draw, even though they were playing with just ten men since the 34th minute after Timofei Kalachev had been sent off for a second bookable offence.

Five minutes from the end Aleksandr Martynovich was also sent for an early shower and just two minutes later substitute Zvjezdan Misimovic found the winner Bosnia.

Luxembourg scored a rare victory with a 2-1 against Albania in another group game.

In Group B, Russia remained top of the group with a goalless draw at home against Ireland.

The Russians have 17 points from their eight games, while the Irish remain in the hunt with 15 points from eight games. Irleand benefited from a Slovakian slip-up at home, as the Slovaks lost 4-0 against Armenia to remain on 14 points from their eight games.

They slipped to fourth in the standings behind the Armenians, who also have 14 points.

Also in that group Macedonia struggled in their 1-0 victory at home against footballing minnows Andorra.

In a Group A game, that has no bearing on the outcome of the two top places in the group, Azerbaijan came from behind to beat Kazakhstan 3-2.

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