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Germany edge closer to finals

Germany all but assured their place at the Euro 2012 finals in Ukraine and Poland as they maintained their 100% qualification record in Group A with a comfortable 3-1 win in Azerbaijan.

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Azerbaijan, who celebrated 100 years of football with visits from FIFA and UEFA supremos Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, started well but goals by Mesut Ozil and Mario Gomez gave Joachim Low's side a clear lead.

Murad Huseynov pulled one back with a minute to go but Andre Schurrle restored the two-goal advantage in injury time and guaranteed Germany's seventh victory out of seven games. Germany's moved 11 points clear of third-placed Turkey, who have four games to play.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a quickfire hat-trick as Sweden moved to within three points of Netherlands at the top of Group E with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Finland in Solna.

Ibrahimovic scored two goals in three minutes after coming on as a substitute midway through the first half before adding a third eight minutes after half-time after Kim Kallstrom had opened the scoring in spectacular style.

Ibrahimovic then picked out Emir Bajrami with a curling pass to score a fifth as Sweden made it nine goals in two games following their 4-1 victory over Moldova last time out.

Hungary kept up their push for a place in the play-offs with a workmanlike 3-0 victory in San Marino.

Goals by Zoltan Liptak, Imre Szabics and Vladimir Koman were sufficient for Sandor Egervari's side to maintain the pressure on second-placed Sweden, who nevertheless remain three points better off and with a game in hand.

Hungary have the chance to move level on points with the Swedes when the two sides meet in the next round of qualifiers on September 2.

Faroe Islands claimed a rare competitive victory as they secured a 2-0 win which effectively ends Estonia's hopes of qualifying. It was only their second competitive victory is almost ten years.

Ten months after blowing a 1-0 lead against the same opposition, when Estonia scored twice in stoppage-time to win in Tallinn, the Faroes this time built a lead and successfully defended it.

Both teams finished with 10 men, but the goals came before the red cards so Estonia, who lost Sander Puri early in the second half, could have few complaints.

They gave away two penalties, the first just before half-time and the second very soon after the interval, and were punished on each occasion.

Frodi Benjaminsen converted the first after Puri, who received his first yellow card, had fouled him. Benjaminsen took responsibility for the second penalty in the 47th minute too, after Dmitri Kruglov had impeded Christian Holst

Pol Justinussen was red-carded in the 89th minute.

Belarus strengthened their grip on second place in Group D with a routine 2-0 win at home to minnows Luxembourg.

Sergei Kornilenko fired the hosts ahead from the penalty spot after 48 minutes and Anton Putsila secured the three points with his side's second inside the final 20 minutes.

Bosnia-Herzegovina boosted their hopes of qualifying with a 2-0 win over Albania in Zenica.

Second-half goals from Haris Medunjanin and Darko Maletic saw off Albania, who were reduced to 10 men five minutes from time when Andi Lila was dismissed. The win leaves Bosnia three points behind Group D leaders France and two behind Belarus.


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