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World Cup place for Mark

Wins all round for Bayern internationals

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Mark van Bommel is the first Bayern star to be sure of a trip to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, after the FCB captain and his Netherlands team-mates beat Iceland 2-1 in Reykjavik on Saturday evening. It was the sixth victory in six qualifiers for the Elftal, who can no longer be toppled from top spot in European qualifying Group 9.

Nigel de Jong (8) and Van Bommel (15), making his 50th appearance in an orange jersey, set the Dutch on their way in the opening quarter of an hour. Kristjan Sigurdsson struck a consolation for the home side three minutes from time. With only the matches against Norway (10 June) and Scotland (9 September) to go, Bert van Marwijk’s side are the first European nation to book a place at next year’s event.

Lucio and Co overcome jinx

Lucio and his team-mates in the Brazilian Seleção took a giant stride towards South Africa with their first away victory over Uruguay in 33 years, propelling the five-time world champions to the top of the South American standings. Daniel Alves (12), Juan (36), Luis Fabiano (52) and Kaka (75, pen) silenced the majority of the 55,000 crowd at the Centenario stadium in Montevideo as the visitors won 4-0. Brazil schemer Luis Fabiano (65) and Uruguay man Maximiliano Pereira (87) were both sent off.

With previous leaders Paraguay beaten 2-0 by Chile, the Seleção now take over top spot on goal difference. Brazil are seven points clear of fifth-placed Uruguay. The top four qualify directly for South Africa, with the team finishing fifth going into a play-off.

Tough going for Argentina

Martin Demichelis and his Argentina team-mates currently occupy fourth place in the South American standings, two points adrift of Brazil and five ahead of the Uruguayans. Diego Maradona’s side made heavy weather of a 1-0 home win over Columbia, only partially redeeming themselves for a 6-1 hiding off Bolivia in their previous qualifier. Demichelis played the full 90 minutes in front of a 45,000 crowd at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, in which Daniel Diaz scored the only goal of the game on 56 minutes.

Toni rested

By contrast, Luca Toni failed to appear in Italy’s friendly victory over Northern Ireland, watched by a paltry 8,200 crowd in Pisa. Italy boss Marcello Lippi rested a number of stars, but his side still cruised to a 3-0 win. Giuseppe Rossi (19), Pasquale Foggia (52) and Sergio Pellissier (73) added their names to the scoresheet, all three netting their maiden international goals.