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European Qualifiers Win Their Berths for 2006 World Cup

England, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, and Croatia have all qualified for next year's World Cup football tournament in European qualifying matches Saturday.

England scored a 1-0 win over Austria even though it lost star player David Beckham to two yellow cards in London. Beckham was sent off in the 58th minute of the game and will not play in England's final qualifying match against Poland on Wednesday.

The victory gave England 22 points from Group-6, but Poland leads the group with 24. However, because the Netherlands defeated the Czech Republic, 2-0 in Group-1, both Poland and England qualify for the World Cup.

In Group-8, Croatia guaranteed itself a place in next year's tournament with a 1-0 win over Sweden. Italy qualified from Group-5 thanks to its 1-0 win over Slovenia in Palermo, Sicily. This is the 12th straight time the Italians have made it to the tournament.

Portugal qualified thanks to its 2-1 win over Liechtenstein in Aveiro. The win gave the Portuguese the Group-3 title and their first berth in the World Cup.

Elsewhere in European action, Romania scored a 1-0 win over Finland, thanks to Adrian Mutu's 41st-minute penalty kick. In Group-2, Ukraine drew 2-2 with Albania. Ukraine has already won the group, and Albania has no chance to advance.

In Group-3, Russia and Slovakia both scored wins to keep alive their chances of reaching next year's tournament. Russia defeated Luxembourg, 5-1 in Moscow, while Slovakia downed Estonia, 1-0, in Bratislava.

Ireland stayed in the hunt for a trip to Germany from Group-4 when it scored a 1-0 win on the road against Cyprus.

Under European qualifying rules, the eight group winners and the two best second-place teams advance. The remaining six second-place teams play off next month for three more spots.