Ireland damaged its chances of qualifying for next year's World Cup, losing a two-goal lead in a 2-2 tie with Israel last night in Dublin.

It was one of 32 qualifiers played yesterday. Other notable results in Europe included a 0-0 draw between Italy and host Norway; European champion Greece also played a 0-0 tie at Turkey.

Ukraine remained on course to land its first World Cup berth by beating host Kazakhstan, 2-0. Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal and Russia also picked up key victories.

Argentina could have become the first team in qualifying to clinch. Instead, it lost at Ecuador, 2-0, on second-half goals by Cristian Lara and Agustin Delgado. Colombia routed Peru, 5-0, and Mexico defeated Guatemala, 2-0.

Panama, which plays the United States on Wednesday, also played yesterday. It lost to Trinidad and Tobago, 2-0, on goals by Stern John and Dennis Lawrence.

In Africa, Cameroon won 4-1 at Benin to revive its hopes, and South Africa and Morocco stayed in first place in their groups.

In Dublin, Ireland took a 2-0 lead on goals by Ian Harte in the sixth minute and Robbie Keane in the 11th.

Israel rallied when Avi Yehiel scored in the 39th and Avi Nimi converted a penalty kick in first-half injury time. Ireland was hampered further after Andy O'Brien was sent off in the second half.

Switzerland (3-0-3), which defeated host Faroe Islands, 3-1, leads UEFA's Group Four with 12 points. It is one ahead of Israel (2-0-5) and two ahead of Ireland and France (both 2-0-4).

Scotland (1-2-2) won 2-0 over visiting Moldova on goals by Christian Dailly and James McFadden in Manager Walter Smith's first home game.

"I'm obviously pleased with the outcome of the game," Smith said. "It was an awkward one for us."

In Istanbul, Greece turned down its ticket allocation because of security concerns. Inonu Stadium was filled with red-and-white clad Turkish fans, some dressed like Ottoman warriors and playing drums.

In Kiev, Andriy Shevchenko of AC Milan and Igor Avdeyev score for Ukraine (6-0-2). The team leads Group Two with 20 points, five ahead of Greece (4-1-3) and seven in front of Turkey (3-1-4). If Ukraine wins at Greece on Wednesday, it could qualify with one win in its final three games.

Arjen Robben and Dirk Kuijt scored for the Netherlands in a 2-0 win over visiting Romania. The Dutch (6-0-1) are on top of Group One with 19 points, one ahead of the Czech Republic (6-1), which routed Andorra, 8-1.

Poland (6-1) moved into the Group Six lead with 18 points by winning 3-0 at Azerbaijan. The Poles have 18 points, two more than England (5-0-1), which has played one fewer game.

Portugal (5-0-2) won 2-0 over Slovakia on goals by Fernando Meira and Cristiano Ronaldo and leads Group Three with 17 points, three ahead of Slovakia and Russia.

Spain (3-1-3) beat visiting Lithuania, 1-0. Serbia-Montenegro, with the same record as Spain, leads Group Seven on goal difference.


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