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Matchups Set for Playoffs

October 14, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

The luck of the draw Monday kept the big three of Spain, the Netherlands and Turkey from facing each other in the upcoming Euro 2004 playoffs.

Spain, third in the FIFA world rankings, will play No. 25 Norway; the seventh-ranked Dutch will face No. 53 Scotland; and No. 8 Turkey, third in the 2002 World Cup, will meet No. 73 Latvia in matches scheduled to begin Nov. 15.

Other home-and-home series between second-place group finishers are Russia-Wales and Croatia-Slovenia.

Spain, Scotland, Latvia, Russia and Croatia will be hosts for the first leg of their series. The venues, dates and starting times will be set by next Monday.

The Spaniards anticipate moving on.

"We're better than them, but now we have to show it," Spain captain Raul Gonzalez told the Spanish news agency Efe. "At the last European Championship we started as [the] favorite against Norway and lost [the first match]."

The winners of each series will fill the final five slots of the 16-nation European Championship, in Portugal from June 12-July 4. The teams already in: France, England, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Greece, Bulgaria and Switzerland.

The 16 qualifiers will be divided into four groups with the top two in each group advancing to the single elimination quarterfinals.

Brawl Fallout

The brawl at halftime of Saturday's match between England and Turkey in Istanbul, which included as many as 50 people -- police and officials among them -- in the stadium tunnel, may result in players being sanctioned by European soccer's governing body.

UEFA said it received a match report from Italian referee Pierluigi Collina and will study video evidence before deciding if punishment is warranted.

"Collina saw most of what happened and dealt with it extremely well," UEFA Director of Communications Mike Lee told Sky Sports. "We have to make sure he didn't miss anything before deciding whether or not to take disciplinary action."

The melee broke out after Turkey defender Alpay Ozalan taunted David Beckham after the English captain missed a penalty kick, United Kingdom newspapers reported. Ozalan also reportedly jabbed his finger toward Beckham as players left the field at the half.

The Sun reported that England's 17-year-old striker, Wayne Rooney, hit Ozalan in the face while the Mail said that England defender Ashley Cole was spat at and forward Emile Heskey was subjected to racial epithets.

Ozalan told the Daily Mirror that Beckham had instigated the whole thing by pushing him.

Stankovic May Stay

Serbian midfielder Dejan Stankovic, 23, whose contract with Italian power Lazio expires in June, may stay with the Rome-based club, Lazio Chief Executive Luca Baraldi said.

"Three weeks ago I would've said he was ready to leave, but our offer and talks with him made him consider the possibility of staying," Baraldi said.

"He is young and about to sign the most important contract of his career, so I understand his doubts. What he needs to stay with us is just a little boldness."

Galaxy Update

The Galaxy's 2-1 overtime loss at Kansas City on Saturday assured that the struggling Major League Soccer champions would finish in fourth place in the Western Conference and play four consecutive games against its California rival, the San Jose Earthquakes, beginning this weekend.

The home-and-home series to close out the regular season begins Saturday at the Home Depot Center and moves to Spartan Stadium on Oct. 25 before the aggregate-goals, first-round playoff series between No. 1 San Jose and No. 4 L.A. begins on Nov. 1 in Carson and concludes in San Jose on Nov. 9.

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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