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Ribéry, Van Bommel and German trio march on

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Ribéry, Van Bommel and German trio march on

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:00 am

A number of Bayern stars took a decisive step towards next year's World Cup finals in South Africa with important victories in Wednesday evening's round of qualifiers, although there were setbacks to report as well.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Lukas Podolski continued their steady progress with Germany, Mark van Bommel and the Dutch are all but home and dry, and France superstar Franck Ribéry turned match-winner for the second time in five days. The situation looks less rosy for Daniel Van Buyten and Belgium, while Martin Demichelis and Argentina tumbled to a heavy defeat.

The Germans cemented their position at the head of European Group 4 with a workmanlike 2-0 victory away to Wales. Michael Ballack fired a 30-yard opener after 11 minutes, before Ashley Williams put through his own goal on 48 minutes to send the 26,000 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff home disappointed. Lahm covered the full 90 minutes, Podolski was substituted after 72 minutes, and Schweinsteiger left the field with a minor injury four minutes from time.

Van Bommel almost there

"It was an important win today," Podolski commented, "it was hard work, but we've ended up winning with something to spare." Coach Joachim Löw was equally satisfied: "We started well, but the game lost momentum after we went 2-0 up. The players knew they were in control and chose to let the pace drop. We're in good shape in terms of qualifying." With six out of ten matches played, the Germans continue to lead Russia by four points.

In Group 9, the Netherlands lead the section by fully eight points with just three matches to play after cruising to a 4-0 home victory over Macedonia. Mark van Bommel covered the distance for the men in orange as Dirk Kuyt (16, 41), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (25) and Rafael van der Vaart (87) rattled up the goals in Amsterdam.

Ribéry strikes again

In Paris, Ribéry again turned saviour for his country, netting the only goal of the game against Lithuania for the second time in less than a week. The French leapfrog the Lithuanians into second in Group 7 and are now just two points off leaders Serbia. The pair face off in September.

By contrast, Daniel van Buyten's World Cup ambitions are fading fast, as Belgium fell 2-1 away to Bosnia Herzegovina. The Belgians are now five points behind the second-placed Bosnians in Group 5. Wolfsburg hitman Edin Dzeko struck an early brace to effectively settle the meeting in Zenica. Gill Swerts struck a late consolation for the Belgians, who were reduced to ten men on the hour when Axel Witsel saw a red card.

Shock defeat for Demichelis

Over in South America, it was an evening to forget for Martin Demichelis. The FCB man played the full 90 minutes for Argentina in Bolivia, but his side crashed to a humbling 6-1 defeat in La Paz. Marcelo Martins (11), Joaquin Botero (34 pen, 53, 66), Alex Da Rosa (45) and Didi Torrico (87) rattled in the goals as the team lying second from bottom in the qualifying table registered an historic victory. Luis Gonzalez (25) netted for Argentina, who suffered a first defeat under new boss Diego Maradona.
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