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Russia, Ukraine, Portugal Win in World Cup Qualifying

Russia, Ukraine, Portugal, and Croatia have all scored wins in European qualifying matches for next year's World Cup football (soccer) tournament in Germany.

Portugal took the lead in Group-Three after scoring a 2-0 win over Slovakia. Slovakia is second in the group while Russia is third following its 2-0 win over Latvia. Also, Estonia scored a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein.

A special visitor attended the Portugal-Slovakia match -- an Indonesian boy named Martunis, who survived last December's earthquake and tsunami and was found wandering on a beach in Banda Aceh. International Football Federation President Sepp Blatter, Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and members of both teams personally greeted the boy before the match.

Meanwhile in Group-Two, Ukraine moved to the top of the standings with 20 points following its 2-0 win over Kazakhstan. Greece is second in the group after playing Turkey to a scoreless draw Saturday.

Spain moved into a first place tie in Group-Seven with a 1-0 win over Lithuania in Valencia. Alberto Luque scored the only goal of the match in the 68th minute. In Group-8, Croatia scored a 3-1 win over Bulgaria. Croatia leads the group with 16 points, followed by Sweden, which defeated Malta, 6-0. Hungary defeated Iceland, 3-2 in Group-8 play.

The Netherlands defeated Romania, 2-0, and leads Group-1 with 19 points. The Czech Republic is in second place following its 8-1 plastering of Andorra. Macedonia scored a 2-1 win over Armenia.

The winner of each group and the two best second placed teams automatically qualify for the World Cup. The six other second placed teams face playoffs for three berths to Germany.

In African qualifying, South Africa defeated the Cape Verde Islands, 2-1. South Africa leads its group with 15 points.

Cameroon scored a 4-1 win over Benin. Cameroon is second in African Group-3 behind Ivory Coast. Also Saturday, Tunisia beat Botswana, 3-1. The group winners qualify for the World Cup.

Some information for this report provided by AP.