Euro 2008 qualifying : Italy held by Lithuania

London, September 3 :

World Cup champion Italy was held to 1-1 by Lithuania on Saturday in European Championship qualifying, and Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands struggled to beat underdog opponents.

Lithuania captain Tomas Danilevicius gave his team a 21st-minute lead in Naples, Italy. The hosts, who won the World Cup less than two months ago, needed Filippo Inzaghi’s 30th-minute goal to salvage a point in Group B.

A deflected shot from Lukas Podolski enabled Germany to edge Ireland 1-0 in Stuttgart, the Czech Republic needed a last-minute winner for a 2-1 victory over Wales and a goal by defender Joris Mathijsen helped the Netherlands squeeze past Luxembourg 1-0. There were no such scares for World Cup runner-up France, England or Spain, while defending champion Greece began with a 1-0 victory at Moldova.

The French cruised to a 3-0 victory at Georgia while England outplayed Andorra 5-0 with Peter Crouch taking his scoring record to 10 goals in his last nine games. Spain brushed aside Liechtenstein 4-0 with David Villa scoring twice. Fernando Torres and Luis Garcia also scored in the Group F match.

Italy’s surprise draw means it’s in fourth place behind Scotland, Georgia and France, who all have three points. France and Italy meet in Paris on Wednesday.

Georgia crushed the Faeroe Islands 6-0 in its opening Group B game. In another game, Kris Boyd scored two goals to help Scotland to a 5-0 lead by the 38th minute on the way to a 6-0 victory over the Faeroe Islands. The Faeroes have now conceded 12 goals in two matches.

Co-strikers Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe scored two goals each in England’s predictably easy win over Andorra at Old Trafford in Group E. Steven Gerrard also hit the target and Owen Hargreaves twice hit the post as England repeatedly opened up the Andorra side, which often had all 11 players behind the ball.

In the same group, Israel won 1-0 at Estonia with Roberto Collatti scoring in the seventh minute.

The games were among 19 qualifying matches for the European Championship, which takes place in Austria and Switzerland in two years.

Despite their victories, both the Germans and Czechs are behind Slovakia on goal difference because the Slovaks crushed Cyprus 6-1 with striker Marek Mintal scoring two.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored twice in Norway’s 4-1 Group C victory over Hungary in Budapest.