The Czech Republic, Switzerland, Spain and Uruguay each took a big step toward qualifying for next year's World Cup in Germany by winning the first game of a two-game playoff yesterday.

In an international friendly match, the United States tied Scotland, 1-1, in Glasgow.

Vladimir Smicer scored for the Czech Republic in a 1-0 victory over Norway in Oslo. The Swiss topped 2002 semifinalist Turkey, 2-0, and Uruguay edged visiting Australia, 1-0.

Spain defeated Slovakia, 5-1, at home.

Smicer, left unmarked in front of the net, beat goalie Thomas Myhre from eight yards out. Karel Poborsky set up the goal with a cross from the right side.

"We came here to try to win or at least score and we managed to fulfill both," Smicer said.

Philippe Senderos and Valon Behrami scored a goal each for Switzerland at Stade de Suisse in Bern. Dario Rodriguez scored the lone goal for two-time World Cup champion Uruguay in the 35th minute. Four years ago, Australia won, 1-0, at home in the first leg but lost, 3-0, in Uruguay.

The second playoff games are on Wednesday.

In other international friendlies, England defeated Argentina, 3-2, and Brazil routed the United Arab Emirates, 8-0.

The Americans scored on a ninth-minute penalty kick by Josh Wolff. Scotland's Andy Webster scored on a 37th-minute header. The Americans, who will be appearing in a fifth straight World Cup, finished 2005 with a 13-3-4 record.

"It was a good way for us to start to identify players that might be part of our 23-man roster for next year," said U.S. Coach Bruce Arena, who added that his quickly assembled squad had only four of the team's 11 probable starters for the World Cup.

In the Americans' only other game in Scotland, they lost 6-0 in 1952.

In Geneva, Michael Owen scored two goals late for England -- tying the score in the 86th minute and then jumping to meet Joe Cole's cross for the winner in the second minute of injury time.

"To come back twice was great, that is what these warmup games for the World Cup are for," Owen said. "It was cracking, exciting, so much more to it than a friendly. Even when they scored, their fans and their players were going mad."

Hernan Crespo opened the scoring for Argentina in the first half and Wayne Rooney tied it for England. Walter Samuel put the Argentines up 2-1 in the 54th minute.

Catholic Women Fall

Lynchburg scored three second-half goals to defeat Catholic, 3-1, in an NCAA Division III women's tournament first-round game last night in Newport News, Va.

The previously unbeaten Cardinals (18-1-2) took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior Laura Kaye (Bishop Ireton) in the 20th minute. The second half, however, belonged to the Hornets (17-3-2).

Melanie Chidester (Robinson) had a goal and an assist for Lynchburg.