LONDON: Miroslav Klose hit a hat-trick for Germany but his goals only salvaged a 3-3 draw for a side that was just seven minutes from losing to Finland for the first time in 85 years on Wednesday in the 2010 World Cup European qualifier.
Most of the other teams expected to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa came through the second round of qualifiers in five days unscathed. World champion Italy beat Georgia 2-0 in Udine and World Cup runner-up France beat Serbia 2-1 in Paris.
European champion Spain maintained its perfect start in Group Five with a 4-0 win over Armenia in Albacete.
There was an amazing finale in Lisbon where Denmark beat Portugal 3-2 with four of the five goals in the match scored between the 83rd minute and the second minute of stoppage time.
Nani put Portugal ahead after 42 minutes, Nicklas Bendtner made it 1-1 after 83 minutes before Deco put Portugal ahead with an 86th minute penalty. Christian Poulsen equalized after 89 minutes before Daniel Jensen won it for the Danes in the second minute of stoppage time.
The one major shock was in Zurich where Euro 2008 co-hosts Switzerland lost 2-1 to Luxembourg, ranked 152nd in the world.
Bosnia scored the biggest win of the night, crushing Estonia 7-0, but the Czech Republic, ranked eighth in the world, failed to convince on a rainy night in Belfast and were held to a 0-0 draw by Northern Ireland.
The Netherlands, who went out of Euro 2008 at the quarterfinal stage after a brilliant start to the competition, opened their campaign with a 2-1 win over Macedonia in Skopje. John Heitinga and Rafael van der Vaart got the goals.
Coach Fabio Capello's England team overwhelmed Croatia 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick by teenager Theo Walcott which ended Croatia's run of 35 unbeaten European and World Cup home qualifiers since it began playing competitive soccer in 1994.
The win, following Saturday's 2-0 victory over Andorra, put England top of Group Six, along with Ukraine, which maintained its perfect start with a 3-1 win in Kazakhstan.
Italy, who beat Cyprus 2-1 away on Saturday, scored a second successive win in Group Eight by beating Georgia 2-0 in Udine, Daniele De Rossi scoring twice.
France got its first points in Group Seven following Saturday's shock 3-1 defeat by Austria, beating Serbia 2-1 in Paris with goals from Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka.
Despite its draw in Finland, Germany still tops Group Four, a point ahead of Russia and Wales.
Russia opened its campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wales in Moscow, though the Euro 2008 semifinalists left it late with Pavel Pogrebnyak lashing home the winner nine minutes from time.
Greece, which won 2-0 in Latvia, has maximum points and tops Group Two while Lithuania, 2-0 winner over Austria, also has a 100 percent record and top Group Seven.
Source: China Daily/Agencies