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Football: England Defeats N. Ireland in European World Cup Qualifier

England's national football (soccer) team has defeated Northern Ireland, 4-0, while the Czech Republic edged Finland, 4-3 in European qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

All of England's goals came in the second half, with Joe Cole scoring for the home side in the 47th minute. Michael Owen added a second goal in the 52nd minute. Northern Ireland's Chris Baird knocked the ball into his own goal to give England a 3-0 lead, and Frank Lampar of England added the fourth score in the 62nd minute.

Also in Group-6, Austria scored a 2-0 win over Wales in Cardiff. Ivica Vastic scored in the 82nd minute and Martin Stranzl added the second Austrian goal four minutes later.

In Group-1, the Czech Republic needed an 87th-minute goal from Vratislav Lokvenc to beat Finland, 4-3 in Teplice. The Czechs lead the group with 12 points. Also in Group-1, Armenia defeated Andorra, 2-1, in Yerevan, with Ara Hakobian and Romik Khachtrian scoring for the home side. Fernando Silva scored for Armenia.

In Group-3 play, Russia defeated Liechtenstein, 2-1 in Vaduz, thanks to goals from Alexander Kerzhakov (23rd minute) and Andrei Kariaka (37th minute). Also in Group-3, Slovakia defeated Estonia, 2-1, in Tallinn.

In Group-8, Sweden shut out Bulgaria, 3-0, in Sofia. Fredrik Ljungberg scored two goals for Sweden, including a 90th minute penalty. Erik Edman added Sweden's other goal.

A total of 17 qualifiers are on the schedule in Europe, Saturday. In European qualifying, the winner of each group and the two best second-place teams earn automatic berths to next year's World Cup. The six other second-place teams are drawn against each other for playoffs to earn three berths to the tournament.

Meanwhile, Kenya has beaten Botswana, South Africa downed Uganda, and Zambia defeated the Republic of Congo in African qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup football (soccer) tournament in Germany.

In Group-5, Kenya shut out Botswana in front of home fans in Nairobi, thanks to Dennis Oliech's 45th minute goal. Kenya has six points in the group.

Meanwhile in Group-2, South Africa defeated Uganda, 2-1, in Johannesburg thanks to goals from Quinton Fortune and Steven Pienaar.

In Group-1 play, Senegal blasted Liberia, 6-1, with El-Hadji Diouf scoring twice for Senegal. Also in Group-1, Zambia shut out the Republic of Congo, 2-0. Elijah Tana and Collins Mbesuma scored for Zambia.

A total of eight African qualifiers are on the schedule today. Only the group winners advance to next year's World Cup in Germany.