Portugal became the first UEFA side (aside from hosts France) to
reach Marseille 2008 after thrashing Greece 8-0 on Friday in the
European qualifiers. The Italians also won big in a later contest
while the Russians needed a touch of luck as Spain taught the
Czechs a lesson.
The Portuguese took their time to get things going in their tilt with the Greeks, opening the scoring in the second period with two goals in one minute from captain Hernani. After that, the floodgates opened as they scored six more goals without reply to book a place at the 2008 finals.
The Italians followed the Portuguese to the finals in Marseille with an 8-3 win over Ukraine on Friday. Michele Leghisa scored four goals in the rout and Paolo Palmacci bagged himself three to see the Italians book a place at the world finals.
The Russians were the third team to qualify on Friday with a 3-2 win over Switzerland. After starting strong, the East Europeans were made to sweat it out after conceding two late goals in a tense victory. Dejan Stankovic scored twice for the Russians to bring his qualifying tally to 16.
Spain had little trouble booking their place in Marseille,
thrashing Czech Republic 7-1 with star goal getter Amarelle scoring
three of his own,
The four European qualifiers round out the 16-team field for the finals in Marseille which run from 17-27 July 2008. They join hosts France, Oceania reps Solomon Islands, Japan, Iran and UAE from Asia.
Africa will be represented by Cameroon and Senegal with Mexico, El Salvador, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil carrying the flag for the Americas.
The official draw for the finals will take place in Benidorm on Sunday at 21:15 CET.