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Ukraine joins USA in World Cup field

England takes step closer to qualifying with win over Wales

The United States and Ukraine qualified for next year's World Cup on Saturday, and Israel, England, Italy and the Netherlands took steps forward toward making next year's 32-nation field.

Romania upset the fourth-ranked Czech Republic to boost its chances, and 2010 World Cup host South Africa was beaten at Burkina Faso and is in danger of missing soccer's showcase tournament next June.

The United States (6-0-1) clinched its fifth straight World Cup berth with three games to spare, winning 2-0 against Mexico (5-1-1) at Columbus, Ohio. Steve Ralson and DaMarcus Beasley scored as the Americans moved into first place in the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Trinidad and Tobago rallied on two late goals by Stern John to beat visiting Guatemala 3-2, leaving both teams at 2-4-1 with seven points. Costa Rica (2-3-1) was at Panama (0-4-2) later Saturday night. The top three teams qualify, and the No. 4 nation meets Bahrain or Uzbekistan in a playoff for another berth.

Ukraine tied 1-1 at Georgia in a game FIFA ordered played in an empty stadium because of fan violence at Georgia's home games against Greece and Turkey. Ruslan Rotan put the visitors ahead in the 44th minute, but Georgi Gakhokidze tied the score in the 89th.

Ukraine (7-0-3), atop Europe Group Two with 24 points, clinched its first World Cup appearance when second-place Turkey (4-1-5) was held to a 2-2 tie at home against Denmark. While Greece (4-2-3) is nine points back with three games left, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head record, and Ukraine won at Greece in June while the teams tied at Kiev last October.

The eight European group winners and top two second-place teams qualify, and the other six second-place teams go to playoffs for three more berths.

Argentina, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea already had qualified to join host Germany.

Seeking to make its first World Cup since 1970, Israel rallied for a 1-1 tie at Switzerland.

Alex Frei put the Swiss ahead in the fifth minute at Basel, but Adoram Keisi tied the score in the 20th with a header that went in off the post after Idan Tal's 35-yard free kick.

Israel plays its final two games against the Faeroe Islands, which lost 3-0 at France as Djibril Cisse scored twice. Switzerland, Ireland and France (3-0-4) each have 13 points in Group Four, one ahead of Israel (2-0-6). Wednesday's schedule has Israel at the Faeroes, France at Ireland and Switzerland at Cyprus.

"Switzerland was counting on getting six easy points against us and Cyprus. But now they have only one and that was our doing," Israel coach Avram Grant said.

England (6-0-1) won 1-0 at Wales (0-5-2) on Joe Cole's goal in the 54th minute. Poland (7-1), leads Group Six with 21 points but has played one more game than England, which has 19 points.

"If we go on like this, we will win the group," England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said. His team plays at Northern Ireland on Wednesday and hosts Poland on Oct. 12.

The Netherlands won 1-0 at Armenia (1-8-1) behind Ruud van Nistelrooy's goal in the 64th minute. The Dutch (8-0-1) lead Group One with 25 points, three ahead of Romania (7-3-1), which won 2-0 at home against the Czechs (7-2) on a pair of goals by Adrian Mutu.

Scotland (1-2-4) took a surprise lead at Glasgow on Kenny Miller's goal in the 13th minute. but Fabio Grosso tied the score in the 76th minute on a chip off a rebound following Francesco Totti's corner kick. Italy (4-1-2) heads Group Five with 14 points, two ahead of Norway (3-1-3), which won 3-2 at Slovenia.

"It's a real honor to score my first goal for the national team," Grosso said. "It was an important goal and it came at a tough stadium to play in. "We suffered but we kept our determination and we were able to draw, that is what is important."

Germany lost an exhibition game 2-0 at Slovakia, which got two first-half goals from Miroslav Karhan.

In South America, fourth-place Paraguay (7-5-4) won 1-0 over visiting Argentina (9-3-4) as Roque Santa Cruz scored, its first win in qualifying over the Argentines. Third-place Ecuador (8-6-2) won 2-1 at Bolivia (4-11-1) on two goals by Agustin Delgado, and Venezuela (5-8-3) won 4-1 against visiting Peru (3-7-6).

Brazil (7-2-6) can clinch its 18th straight berth when it plays Chile (5-5-5) at home Sunday. The top four South American teams qualify.

South Africa (5-4) will have a difficult path to qualify for its third straight World Cup following a 3-1 loss at Burkina Faso (4-5). The South Africans and Ghana (5-1-3) each have 15 points going into Ghana's game Sunday at home against last-place Uganda (2-5-1). In Africa, the five group winners gain berths.

Tunisia moved within one point of qualifying for its third straight World Cup, winning 2-0 at Kenya in a game also played behind closed doors. Tunisia (6-1-2) leads Group Five with 20 points, one in front of Morocco (5-0-4), which won 1-0 over visiting Botswana (3-6).

Senegal (5-1-3) took the African Group One lead, winning 1-0 at Zambia on a goal by El-Hadji Diouf 11 minutes into the second half to move one point ahead of Togo (5-1-2).

Uzbekistan beat visiting Bahrain 1-0 in the opener of a home-and-home playoff for fifth place in the Asian region, getting a goal from Mirdjalal Kasymov in the 11th minute.

Australia routed the visiting Solomon Islands 7-0 at Sydney in the opener of the two-game Oceania playoff. Australia played its first qualifier under new coach Guus Hiddink, who led the Netherlands in the 1998 World Cup and South Korea in the 2002 tournament. The second game is Tuesday at Honiara, and the winner plays the No. 5 team from South America in another two-game playoff for a berth.