Owen, England handle Russia without Beckham
LONDON -- England, Italy, Scotland, the Netherlands and Spain won important qualifiers Wednesday night for next year's European Championship. With England missing David Beckham and several other injured regulars, Michael Owen scored in the seventh and 31st minutes and Rio Ferdinand added the final goal in the 84th for a 3-0 victory over Russia at Wembley. England (6-1-2) moved into second in Group E with 20 points, three behind Croatia (7-0-2), which won 6-0 at Andorra. Russia (5-1-3) is third with 18 points, one ahead of Israel (5-2-2). The top two nations in each group qualify for next year's tournament in Austria and Switzerland. England's remaining qualifiers are Oct. 13 against Estonia, Oct. 17 at Russia and Nov. 21 against Croatia. At Kiev, Antonio Di Natale scored twice, including a tiebreaking goal in the 77th minute that gave Italy a 2-1 victory at Ukraine. Di Natale headed in Christian Panucci's cross from the left in the 41st minute, but Andriy Shevchenko -- a former star in the Italian League with AC Milan -- beat goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to tie the score in the 71st. Massimo Ambrosini set up Di Natale's second goal, feeding him for a one-on-one with goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy. Italy (6-1-2) is second in Group B with 20 points, one point behind Scotland (7-2) and one ahead of France (6-2-1). At Tirana, Ruud van Nistelrooy scored in second-half injury time to lift the Netherlands over Albania 1-0. Substitute Urby Emanuelson crossed to Van Nistelrooy, who scored with a low shot from close range. Albania finished a man short after midfielder Lorik Cana was ejected in the 87th for clashing with Wesley Sneijder and Van Nistelrooy. The Netherlands and Romania (both 6-0-2) are tied for the Group G lead, two points ahead of Bulgaria (5-1-3), which beat visiting Luxembourg 3-0. Spain defeated visiting Latvia 2-0 at Oviedo on goals by Xavi Hernandez in the 13th minute and Fernando Torres in the 85th. Spain (6-2-1) and Sweden (6-1-1) are tied atop Group F with 19 points, three ahead of Northern Ireland (5-3-1), which lost 2-1 at Iceland. At Prague, the Czech Republic beat Ireland 1-0 on Marek Jankulovski's goal in the 16th minute. Germany (7-0-1) leads Group D with 22 points, two in front of the Czechs (6-1-2). Ireland fell to 4-3-2. Germany beat visiting Romania 3-1 in an exhibition game at Cologne, getting goals from Bernd Schneider in the 42nd, David Odonkor in the 65th and Lukas Podolski in the 82nd. Dorian Goian gave Romania the lead in the third minute.