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Play-off spot for Ribéry

Tymoshchuk leapfrogs Olic and Pranjic

With one round of group stage qualifiers still to go, Bayern’s German and Dutch stars are already safely through to the 2010 World Cup finals. A handful of the club’s remaining internationals can still make it to South Africa, albeit via the unloved and nerve-shredding play-offs, but others have seen their dreams fade and die. reviews the situation after a dramatic night on the world footballing stage.

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk v Ivica Olic & Danijel Pranjic
The final matchday in Group 6 boils down to a shoot-out between Ukraine and Croatia for the runners-up spot. That also means an internal club battle between Tymoshchuk and Olic/Pranjic. The Croatia pair were forced to watch in dismay on Saturday as Tymoshchuk and the Ukrainians leapfrogged their Balkan rivals to take the prized second spot in the table.

In Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine handed England a first defeat in qualifying, spoiling the group winners’ previously unblemished record. Sergey Nazarenko fired the only goal of the game on 29 minutes, after the English were reduced to ten men with quarter of an hour played when keeper Rob Green saw a red card. Tymoshchuk covered the full distance for his country.

With one game to play, the Ukrainians are a point ahead of the Croats, and will fancy their chances away to last-placed Andorra next Wednesday, when Croatia visit second-from-bottom Kazakhstan.

Franck Ribéry
There was relief all round for the French on Saturday, for although Les Bleus can no longer qualify directly for the 2010 finals, they are at least guaranteed a play-off spot. Missing the injured Ribéry, Framce thumped the Faeroe Islands 5-0 to ensure a second-place finish in Group 7.

André-Pierre Gignac (34, 39), William Gallas (53), Nicolas Anelka (86) and Karim Benzema (88) struck the goals in Guingamp to make short work of the team languishing at the foot of the section. Serbia battered Romania by the same score to seal top spot and a place at next summer’s finals.