Germany score 13, France avenge World Cup loss

September 6, 2006

LONDON, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Germany recorded the biggest victory in the history of the European Championship when they crushed San Marino 13-0 in a Group D qualifier on Wednesday.

GettyImages / LarsBaronMiroslav Klose scores his second goal.

Germany's huge win in Serravalle will increase the growing argument that UEFA should reorganise the competition to prevent the top nations playing one-sided matches against the tiniest countries on the continent.

Lukas Podolski netted four times, while Miroslav Klose, Thomas Hitzlsperger and Bastian Schweinsteiger all scored twice.

France recorded a victory no less sweet when they beat Italy 3-1 in their Group B match in Paris in a quick re-run of the World Cup final of two months ago when the Italians beat them on penalties to become world champions.

Sidney Govou scored twice for France and Thierry Henry got their other goal while Alberto Gilardino scored for the world champions who have made a poor start to the qualifiers following their 1-1 home draw with Lithuania in Naples on Saturday.

Scotland maintained their good start in the same group with a 2-1 win over Lithuania in Kaunas.

There was an important away victory for England who overcame Macedonia 1-0 in Group E to record their second successive win in the group to make their best start to a qualifying competition for 10 years. Peter Crouch scored the only goal to take his tally for England to 11 in his last 10 matches.

The Netherlands also maintained their 100 percent start in Group G with a 3-0 win over Belarus in Eindhoven with two goals from Robin van Persie and one from Dirk Kuyt.

There was a big shock in Belfast where Northern Ireland, who lost 3-0 at home to Iceland on Saturday, recovered to beat Spain 3-2 in Group F with David Healy scoring a hat-trick.

The result evoked memories of one of Northern Ireland's greatest wins -- a 1-0 victory over Spain in the 1982 World Cup finals -- and was the biggest upset of Wednesday's 21 matches.

Georgia looked like they would have that honour when they led Ukraine 2-1 in their Group B match with 30 minutes to go but the hosts hit back to win 3-2 with goals from Ruslan Rotan and Andriy Rusol.

Andriy Shevchenko had put Ukraine ahead after 31 minutes.

Both of the countries that were forced to play away from home won, with Turkey beating Malta 2-0 in their Group C match in Frankfurt and Israel swamping Andorra 4-1 in their Group E game played in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Turkey were forced to forfeit home advantage following problems in their World Cup qualifier against Switzerland last November while Israel were ordered to play outside the Jewish state because of security worries in the Middle East.

Israel are hoping to have that ruling overturned by European soccer's governing body UEFA next week.

Denmark scored a 2-0 win away to Iceland in Group F while in another match between neighbours Czech Republic beat Slovakia 3-0 in Bratislava in their Group D derby.

Poland just about put Saturday's stunning home loss to Finland behind them with a 1-1 draw against Serbia in Group A while Hungary came back from their 4-1 home defeat by Norway to win their Group C match 3-1 in Bosnia.

No team, of course, scored as many goals as Germany, who stole the spotlight with their biggest competitive win outside Olympic soccer and smashed the old competition record set when Spain beat Malta 12-1 in a qualifier nearly 23 years ago.