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Spain Sitting Pretty as Other Cup Hopefuls Sweat

DW staff (nda)November 14, 2005

Three of Europe’s World Cup hopefuls took a step closer to the finals next year in the first of two play-off rounds on Saturday. Only Spain can feel confident of progressing while the other games remain on a knife edge.

Spain's Luis Garcia is congratulated after his hat-trick sunk Slovakia on SaturdayImage: AP

Spain could be excused for heading for the travel agent on Monday morning to book their tickets to Germany in June after thrashing Slovakia 5-1 in their World Cup qualification play-off first leg tie in Madrid on Saturday.

Luis Aragones and his team fly out to Bratislava on Wednesday for the return game safe in the knowledge that, barring a phenomenal collapse, Spain will be at their eighth consecutive World Cup next summer.

Garcia hat-trick sinks Slovakia

A Luis Garcia hat-trick, a penalty from Fernando Torres and a late fifth from Fernando Morientes sunk the woeful Slovaks who were reduced to ten men after defender Marian Had was sent off after 64 minutes for protesting the penalty award.

Schweiz x Türkei
Turkey were muscled-out of the game against Switzerland in Berne.Image: AP

Switzerland recorded the surprise result of the night by beating Turkey 2-0 in Berne with goals from Philippe Senderos and Valon Behrami seeing off the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists.

Turks enraged by 2-0 loss to Swiss

The Turkish supporters were incensed by the result which ended Turkey's unbeaten away record during this World Cup qualifying campaign, stoking the fires of what will be an already intense occasion in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Czech Republic x Norway
Pavel Nedved was back to his influential best against Norway in Olso.Image: AP

The other European play-off between the Czech Republic and Norway ended with a 1-0 victory for the Czechs on a terrible surface in Oslo. Torrential rain had turned the pitch into a quagmire and it was unsurprising that the only goal of the game came from a superbly executed Vladimir Smicer header.

The Czechs have the advantage ahead of the rematch in Prague but the game is far from over.

Socceroos down but not out

Elsewhere, Australia were also beaten 1-0 by Uruguay, their nemeses from four years ago at the same point in the competition, but showed enough spirit to suggest that the game on Wednesday night in Sydney will not be a wake.

Gus Hiddink's Socceroos were unlucky not to be sharing the spoils at the half-way point of this tie between the fifth placed South American team and the winners of the Oceania group. The performance in Montevideo was a world away from the 3-0 collapse the Aussies suffered in 2001.

Twice World Cup winners Uruguay were made to battle for 90 minutes and ended the game with only Dario Rodriguez's 37th minute goal and plenty of bruises to take down under for the second-leg.

Trinidadians draw despite dominating

Trinidad & Tobago were held to a 1-1 draw with Bahrain despite being the more dangerous team. Christopher Birchall struck a stunning 25 meter rocket to equalize with 12 minutes left and cancel out Salman Husein's header which had given Bahrain the lead in the 72nd minute.

Twenty-seven nations, including hosts Germany and champions Brazil have already qualified for the finals and the complete line-up will be finalized on Wednesday ahead of the draw for the finals which will be held in Leipzig on Dec. 9.