12 Nov 2011

Ireland and Croatia all but seal Euro places

2:50 pm on 12 November 2011

Ireland and Croatia erased bad memories with stunning football and seven goals as they made preliminary bookings for the Euro 2012 finals by crushing Estonia and Turkey away.

The Irish won their first leg 4-0 against nine-man Estonia in Tallinn thanks to strikes from Keith Andrews, Jon Walters and two from Robbie Keane, while Croatia beat the Turks 3-0 in Istanbul with goals from Ivica Olic, Mario Mandzukic and Vedran Corluka.

In the other playoff first legs, Czech Republic overcame Montenegro 2-0 in Prague while Bosnia and Portugal slugged out a goalless draw on a poor surface in Zenica.

On a busy night of friendlies for teams who had already reached Euro 2012, Italy won 2-0 in Poland - co-hosts with Ukraine of next year's tournament - and Ukraine almost produced an upset, but after leading Germany 3-1 they had to settle for a 3-3 draw in Kiev's newly-renovated Olimpiyskiy Stadium.

France struggled to a lacklustre 1-0 home win over the United States and the Netherlands, losing finalists at the 2010 World Cup, also failed to impress in a 0-0 draw with Switzerland in Amsterdam.

In other friendlies Hungary thrashed Liechtenstein 5-0 in Budapest and Denmark beat arch-rivals Sweden 2-0 in Copenhagen, while Belgium also beat Romania 2-1 at home.