Beckham brilliant for England in Euro qualifying

David Beckham returned to international competition Wednesday and led England to a 3-0 win over Estonia in European Championship qualifying.

David Beckham returned to international competition Wednesday and led England to a 3-0 win over Estonia in European Championship qualifying.

World Cup finalists Italy and France also won.

Beckham, returning after 10 months away, set up two goals at Estonia.

Italy beat host Lithuania 2-0 to keep the pressure on group leader France, which beat Georgia 1-0.

Also, Germany beat Slovakia 2-1 and defending European champion Greece scored in injury time to earn a 2-1 win over visiting Moldova.

Joe Cole gave England a 37th-minute lead with a spin and volley from the edge of the area before Beckham, who was recalled to boost England's flagging qualifying campaign, set up second-half goals for Peter Crouch and Michael Owen with crosses from the right.

"Everyone was making tackles and, tactically, we were spot on," Cole said. "They knew we were up for the game and we would break them down eventually.

"Becks was brilliant today. You know what you're going to get from David Beckham."

England stayed fourth in the Group E standings, with just the top two teams from each seven-team group set to advance to next year's tournament in Austria and Switzerland.

Croatia tied 0-0 with visiting Russia and was joined at the top of the standings with 17 points by Israel, which won at Andorra 2-0 on goals by Toto Tamuz and Roberto Colautti.

Russia has 15 points, one more than England.

Narrow win for France

France, the European champion in 1984 and 2000, kept the lead in Group B with its narrow win over Georgia.

Samir Nasri, a 19-year-old Marseille midfielder, scored the winning goal in just his third international match, scoring in the 33rd minute off Franck Ribery's deflected cross.

France has 18 points, two more than Italy.

Italy, the reigning World Cup champion, beat Lithuania in Kaunas on two goals by Sampdoria forward Fabio Quagliarella.

Scotland moved to 15 points and sole possession of third place with a 2-0 win at the Faeroe Islands.

Three-time European champion Germany traded own-goals with Slovakia in Hamburg before Thomas Hitzlsperger headed in a goal in the 43rd to open up a five-point lead in Group D.

Germany has 19 points from seven matches, ahead of the Czech Republic with 14 and Ireland with 13.

Slovakia stayed fourth with nine points.

There were no other games in the group Wednesday.

"It was only the second time I scored with a header, but it was an important one," Hitzlsperger said.

Late goal lifts Greece

Greece conceded an 80th-minute equalizer against visiting Moldova, but substitute Nikos Lymberopoulos made it 2-1 in the fifth minute of injury time to send the defending champions five points ahead at the top of Group C.

Bosnia beat Malta 1-0 to join second-place Turkey with 13 points, while Norway trounced Hungary 4-0 in the group's other game.

David Villa scored twice to give Spain a 2-0 win Liechtenstein that kept it within a point of Group F leader Sweden, which beat visiting Iceland 5-0 with Marcus Allback scoring twice.

Fourth-place Denmark won 2-0 at Latvia.

Poland missed a chance to extend its lead at the top of Group A, losing at Armenia 1-0.

Armenia, which had been tied for last place in the group standings going into the match, took the lead when Hamlet Mkhitaryan curled a 66th-minute free kick over the wall of defenders and into the top corner.

Poland remained at the top with 19 points after nine games, five more than Serbia, Portugal and Finland.

The Finns beat visiting Belgium 2-0, while Portugal and Serbia were idle.

Romania beat Slovenia 2-0 to stay ahead of Bulgaria by two points in Group G.

The Bulgarians beat Belarus 2-1 to push the Netherlands down to third place.

The Dutch, 1988 European champions, weren't in action and have played a game fewer than the other teams in their group.