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Bosnia move closer to qualification with win

Bosnia are level with Greece, 1-0 winners over Slovakia, on 22 points from nine games but with a vastly superior goal difference (+23) over their rivals (+6) before the final round of qualifiers on Tuesday.

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Bosnia visit Lithuania while Greece are at home to Liechtenstein in the climax to their neck-and-neck race for an automatic berth in next year’s finals in Brazil.

“It would be a disaster if we failed now and I am convinced that we will get the win we need in Kaunas,” Bosnia coach Safet Susic told state television BHT after his side scored four times in a frantic 12-minute first-half spell.

“We never doubted we would pick the lock. It was a question of time, and once we scored there was no stopping us from celebrating an emphatic victory.

“I told the players to slow down in the second half in order to avoid bookings and injuries.”

Edin Dzeko scored twice and Zvjezdan Misimovic and Vedad Ibisevic added the other two for Bosnia, who were treated to a standing ovation by their noisy fans after the final whistle.

Beaten in the reverse fixture 8-1 a little over a year ago, Liechtenstein held out for 27 minutes in a packed Bilino Polje stadium before Manchester City striker Dzeko opened the scoring with a downward header after a perfect cross from the right by Misimovic.

The midfielder turned scorer seven minutes later when he drilled in a crisp shot from 12 metres before Ibisevic and Dzeko netted inside a minute to send the home fans into raptures.

Stand-in right back Avdija Vrsajevic tormented the visitors with darting runs on his flank and his pinpoint deliveries set up Misimovic and Ibisevic for the second and third goals before Dzeko netted the fourth after a flowing team move.

Liechtenstein keeper Peter Jehle produced several fine saves early in the second half before Nicolas Hasler pulled one back on the hour for the visitors, steering in a shot off the crossbar.

The home side took their feet off the gas in the final third of the match, although Misimovic came close with a curling shot from the edge of the penalty area.

“We have made one of two steps towards the finals and it’s now up to us to finish the job in Lithuania,” Ibisevic said.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic, Editing by Sonia Oxley and Stephen Wood)

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Germany secure World Cup spot with win over Ireland

Sami Khedira’s deflected shot gave the hosts a 12th-minute lead and Andre Schuerrle made it 2-0 in the second half following a fine turn.

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Mesut Ozil then made sure of victory with the third goal in stoppage time.

Despite having more than half a dozen injury absentees, Germany were always in control with midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger back in the side after a six-month break to earn his 99th cap.

Germany have 25 points from nine games and an unassailable lead at the top of the group before they face second-placed Sweden in Stockholm on Tuesday.

Arsenal midfielder Ozil was played up front due to injuries to Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose as the hosts fielded six Bayern Munich players in their line-up.

Ireland, with interim coach Noel King in charge after the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni last month, went close through Kevin Doyle in the opening minutes before Germany stepped up a gear.

Khedira struck when his shot from the edge of the box went in off Ireland defender Ciaran Clark.

Keeper David Forde denied Germany a second goal in the 35th minute, spectacularly fisting a thunderous Schuerrle header away.

At the other end Clark almost made amends for his earlier mistake when his header hit the bar on the stroke of halftime.

Germany made it 2-0 in the 58th minute when Schuerrle controlled a fine Toni Kroos chip in the box before blasting the ball beyond Forde.

The Irish forced keeper Manuel Neuer to make a double save in the 73rd minute and Jerome Boateng responded for Germany with an unstoppable shot that rattled Forde’s crossbar.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Tony Jimenez)

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Bathurst will still surprise: Whincup

Low expectations for breaking the legendary Bathurst 1000 qualifying lap record won’t spell the end of high drama at Mount Panorama, according to V8 Supercars defending champion Jamie Whincup.

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Four-time Bathurst winner Whincup had believed, under the right conditions, the Car of the Future design introduced this year could help eclipse Greg Murphy’s 2003 time of two minutes, 6.86 seconds on the mountain – affectionately known as “the Lap of the Gods”.

But after “hauling” his Holden to clock the weekend’s fastest time (two minutes, 8.00 seconds) and claim provisional pole ahead of Saturday’s top 10 qualifying shootout, the series leader all but gave up on reeling in Murphy’s 10-year-old record – for now.

However, he claimed the hot, deteriorating track was to blame – not the new COTF set-up.

“I don’t think anyone here is happy. I think it will take a couple more years to really get right on top of these cars around this crazy place,” Whincup said.

But asked about the likelihood of breaking flying Kiwi Murphy’s now legendary time, Whincup said: “I think a V8 Supercar doing an eight dead (2:08.00) is hauling, don’t disrespect that.

“If I had my way I wouldn’t be too focused on the time.

“It is what is going on behind the scenes, whoever is competing against each other trying to be quickest still applies.

“Even if we are doing 2:10, 2:11, the same fun is going on behind the scenes.”

Ford threat Mark Winterbottom who was second fastest for the shootout was more blunt when asked about Murphy’s decade-long mark of Bathurst perfection.

“Do a 2:06.8? I think you are dreaming,” he said.

“But who knows? It might be overcast (for the shootout). Who can tell? But I wouldn’t think so.”

Holden’s Jason Bright – who was third fastest on Friday – believed the question should be asked after the Bathurst surface receives a facelift ahead of the 2014 race.

“It’s the greasiest I have ever felt it around here,” said Bright, who made his V8 debut way back in 1997.

“I have never had the car move around the way it has at the moment. Usually the car feels quite planted.

“I would put it down to track temperature more than anything else.”

Top 10 qualifying starts at 1700 AEDT.

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Finks gang disbanding in SA: court told

The Finks bikie gang is disbanding in South Australia, a court has been told.

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In a case involving a member of the gang, the SA District Court has heard that some Finks are joining another group called the Mongols.

But defence counsel Heath Barklay said his client, Dylan Jessen is not making the switch and is seeking a fresh start.

Jessen has pleaded guilty to a string of firearms offences while his former girlfriend, Jaymee Renee Noble, is also before the court and has pleaded guilty to one offence, illegally possessing a loaded gun which she hid in her underpants.

Mr Barklay told the court that he had recently received material, including recorded phone conversations, which included details of how the Finks were disbanding and some were joining the Mongols.

But he said his client was no longer associated with the gang and wanted to demonstrate to the court that he was “on the right path”.

“He’s making a break from it all,” Mr Barklay said on Friday.

Solicitor-General Martin Hinton described the prosecution as “upping the ante” in relation to the new information but conceded Jessen should be given an opportunity to convince the court that he had embraced a new life.

In relation to Noble, the court was told her actions in hiding the gun involved an incredibly stupid decision in a moment of panic when police entered Jessen’s home in November last year.

She had intended only to frustrate the police at the time.

The case against Jessen and Noble will return to court on October 30 for further submissions.

Earlier this week SA Attorney-General John Rau expressed concern that the US-based Mongols bikie gang was setting up in Australia and that some local members of the Finks were moving over to the other group.

“This crowd in the United States are a very serious, hardcore criminal group,” Mr Rau said.

“It appears they are wanting to have a chapter or a branch in Australia in the same sort of way as the Hells Angels do.”

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Del Piero stars in Sydney win

Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero capitalised on a couple of howlers from Newcastle’s Zenon Caravella to lead Sydney FC to a 2-0 home win over the Jets in the opening A-League game of the season.

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Del Piero, who notched 14 goals in his maiden A-League campaign last season, scored one and made one for Joel Chianese at Allianz Stadium, but Caravella played a part in both.

After 36 minutes, Del Piero worked his way into the penalty area, but appeared to have lost possession to Connor Chapman only to be gifted it back when midfielder Caravella ran into Chapman.

The veteran striker picked his way through what little defence was left and expertly slid the ball across goalkeeper Mark Birighitti into the far corner of the net.

Caravella, who signed a one-year contract extension earlier this week and is the nephew of Sydney coach Frank Farina, was also culpable for the second goal on the hour.

He was dispossessed by Del Piero, who fed the ball to Chianese who lashed a powerful shot into the net.

Sydney created far more chances against a Newcastle side lacking penetration up front, with strikers Emile Heskey, Michael Bridges and Joey Gibbs all on the injury list.

The Jets had a couple of decent chances after Chianese’s goal, but rarely exposed Sydney’s new-look rearguard, which included three newcomers to the club.

Adam Taggart flashed a strong header just over the bar and Craig Goodwin’s free-kick was saved by Sydney goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic.

Del Piero helped enliven the game after a dull first quarter.

Chianese had a shot blocked by Birighitti in a one-on-one situation created by a Del Piero pass.

Former Newcastle player Matt Thompson almost marked his Sydney debut with a goal when his 20 metre shot crashed off the crossbar and then bounced off Birighitti’s back.

Becoming progressively more involved, Del Piero sent a wicked 20 metre drive just over the bar a few seconds before halftime.

The Jets showed some nice touches early on through Nathan Burns, James Virgili and Craig Goodwin, but didn’t create any good first half chances.

Sydney coach Frank Farina described his team’s work ethic as sensational and was happy with their performance, especially given what he perceived as negative media comments about their prospects.

“Before the ball was even kicked there was a lot of pressure on us, myself, the team,” Farina said.

“It’s a good start, that’s about all.”

He said Sydney still had a lot of work to do, but looked solid defensively and described the debut of former Red Star Belgrade centre back Nikola Petkovic as outstanding.

He was quick to spread the praise across his side rather than focus on Del Piero.

“I thought he was very good tonight, but more so I think collectively we were good,” Farina said.

“There wasn’t a player out there that didn’t pull his weight or didn’t work hard.”

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond said the Jets created their own misfortune with both goals and lamented his side’s inability to make inroads down the wings and build on a promising start.

“Early on we seemed to start to get on top and we looked extremely dangerous,” van Egmond said.

“But that comes back and bites you if you don’t start to take those chances.”