Tuesday, 16 October 2012

European qualification for Brazil 2014 round up

Group A
Belgium and Croatia took giant steps to securing the top two spots in Group A as both won 2-0 at home to the group's two Great Britain representatives in Scotland and Wales respectively. 

Real Madrid's Luka Modric was in inspired form as Croatia cruised past Wales in Zagreb. Chris Coleman's side had done the hard part and kept the Croat's at bay for the opening 20 minutes; however a mix up between captain Ashley Williams and Lewis Price gifted the hosts their opener, with Mario Mandzukic blocking and then converting the goalkeeper's kick out. Croatia created a host of chances, and their deserved second duly arrived when the former Arsenal forward Eduardo Da Silva tapped in from close range. The defeat leaves Wales seven points adrift of Croatia, with their chances of qualification realistically all but over.

Eduaro sealed the points for Croatia

For the second consecutive match Scotland conceded twice late on to miss out on important away points. The Premier league duo of Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany broke Scottish hearts to leave them bottom of Group A after two games, in doing so giving Belgium a brilliant chance of making the 2014 World Cup.

The group's other game saw Macedonia beat Serbia 1-0, to go level on four points with their counterparts. 

Belgium P4 Pts 10
Croatia P4 Pts 10
Serbia P4 Pts 4
Macedonia P4 Pts 4
Wales P4 Pts 3
Scotland P4 Pts 2

Group B
The ten men of Italy took a giant step towards Brazil following their 3-1 win over Denmark, who realistically are their closest rivals for the Group B top spot. Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi appeared to set the Azzurri on their way to a routine home win; however a minute before and after half-time changed the games perspective. Denmark got on the score sheet on the stroke of the interval via William Kvist and the Danes chances of a result improved grately when just 19 seconds into the second half Pablo Osvaldo saw red for a reckless tackle. However having been played through beautifully by Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli finished in style to secure the win. The groups other game saw the Czech Republic held at home by Bulgaria in a scoreless draw.

Italy P4 Pts 10
Bulgaria P4 Pts 6
Czech Republic P3 Pts 5
Armenia P3 Pts 3
Denmark P3 Pts 2
Malta P3 Pts 0

Group C
An amazing game in Group C saw Germany throw a four goal lead away at home to Sweden in a simply unbelievable match in Berlin. Seemingly cruising after a double from Miroslav Klose was backed up with strikes from Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil; however Sweden stirred up the most unlikely of comebacks. Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal on 62 minutes appeared to be just scant consolation, but Mikael Lustig and Johan Elmander ensured a nervy last ten minutes for the Germans, and they couldn't hold on as Rasmus Elm rescued an incredible point. 

The league's two other games saw the Republic of Ireland bounce back from their German nightmare on Friday in routine fashion with a 4-1 victory away to the Faroe Islands, whilst Austria thrashed Kazakhstan 4-0.

Robbie Keane celebrates after Jonathan Walter scores against the Faroe Islands
Ireland's win relived the pressure from manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

Germany P4 Pts 10
Sweden P3 Pts 7
Ireland P3 Pts 6
Austria P3 Pts 4
Kazakhstan P4 Pts 1
Faroe Islands P3 Pts 0

Group D
Holland eased to their fourth consecutive Group D win away to Romania, who prior to the defeat were level with the Dutch at the top of the group. Jeremain Lens, Marten Indi, Rafael Van Der Vaart and Robin Van Persie sealed a 4-1 win for the 2010 World Cup finalists. Turkey again disappointed as they blew a goal lead to lose away to Hungary 3-1 and ensure they went level with Romania in the battle for the all important second spot. Estonia scored their first goal in their first win as they overcame Andorra 1-0. 

Holland P4 Pts 12
Hungary P4 Pts 9
Romania P4 Pts 9
Turkey P4 Pts 3
Estonia P4 Pts 3
Andorra P4 Pts 0

Group E
All the Group E favourites won as Norway and Switzerland recorded impressive away victories. Those two will most likely battle it out for the one automatic qualification spot in the weakest European qualification group. Norway won 3-1 away to Cyprus whilst Switzerland overcame Iceland 2-0. The group's other game saw Albania beat Slovenia 1-0 to keep them on the tails of Norway. 

Switzerland P4 Pts 10
Norway P4 Pts 7
Albania P4 Pts 6
Iceland P4 Pts 6
Slovenia P4 Pts 3
Cyprus P4 Pts 3

Group F
Northern Ireland ruined Cristiano Ronaldo's 100th international for Portugal as the Group F minnows earned a 1-1 in Porto. Defensively superb through out and threatening on the counter attack, Northern Ireland deserved their point and only a late Helder Postiga goal cancelled out Niall McGinn's opener on the half hour mark.

Russia are yet to concede or drop a point in Group F; however they needed a late disputable penalty to overcome Berti Vogts' Azerbaijan side, whilst Israel eased past Luxembourg 3-0 to go level on points with Portugal. 

Fabio Capello's side managed back to back 1-0 home wins this week to strengthen their grip on Group F

Russia P4 Pts 12
Israel P4 Pts 7
Portugal P4 Pts 7
Northern Ireland P3 Pts 2
Azerbaijan P3 Pts 1
Luxembourg P4 Pts 1

Group G
Bosnia continued their fine unbeaten start to qualification as they eased past Lithuania 3-0. Goals from Vedad Ibisevic, Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic ensured Bosnia top the group ahead of Greece on goal difference. The Greek's themselves recorded an impressive 1-0 away win against Slovakia with Dimitris Salpingidis scoring the all important match winner. Latvia won the battle of the two previous pointless sides in their 2-0 victory at home to Liechtenstein. 

Bosnia P4 Pts 10
Greece P4 Pts 10
Slovakia P4 Pts 7
Lithuania P4 Pts 4
Latvia P4 Pts 3
Liechtenstein P4 Pts 0

Group F
Poland against England was postponed because of torrential rain, meaning the duo will have to play each other on Wednesday, causing embarrassment for the hosts whose stadium's roof wasn't used as they were unaware of the potential of the rain that was predicted. 

The group's other two games saw Ukraine's chances of qualification take a huge hit as they lost 1-0 at home to Montenegro. Dejan Damjanovic scored the game's only goal on the strike of half-time, meaning Stevan Jovetic's penalty miss was irrelevant. Moldova won the battle of the minnows as they secured a 2-0 victory away to San Marino. 

England P3 Pts 7
Montenegro P3 Pts 7
Poland P2 Pts 4
Moldova P4 Pts 4
Ukraine P3 Pts 2
San Marino P3 Pts 0

Group I
Olivier Giroud stunned Spain as France rescued a deserved point in the last minute of their group I qualifier. Sergio Ramos had given the European and World Champions the lead, and Cesc Fabregas blew the chance to double their advantage from the penalty spot after Hugo Lloris saved the former Arsenal midfielder's spot kick. Fabregas's miss was pivotal in the end as Giroud scored in stoppage time as France went some way to avenging their defeat to the Spanish at Euro 2012. Belarus overcame Georgia 2-0 to keep their slim chances of making Brazil alive. 

Spain P3 Pts 7
France P3 Pts 7
Georgia P4 Pts 4
Belarus P3 Pts 3
Finland P2 Pts 1

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