World Cup Qualifying Euro Video Wrap: Germany, England, Spain, Wales All Win

Mr XSenior Writer IOctober 13, 2012

World Cup Qualifying Euro Video Wrap: Germany, England, Spain, Wales All Win

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    World Cup 2014 qualifying is up and running at full tilt after just a couple of games. Already, we can see nations like Germany, who trounced Ireland 6-1, Russia, who beat Portugal 1-0, and Holland take command of their respective groups on the road to Rio.

    As ever within the UEFA family, there were a number of high-profile encounters that saw surprising results, shocking results and some downright strange results and performances to match.

    European qualifying sees 53 nations split into eight groups of six teams and one of five. The winners of each of the nine groups will earn an automatic place in Brazil in two years' time, with the eight best runners-up given the chance to earn a golden ticket in a playoff match.

    Here's a group-by-group roundup of what happened on Match Day 2 and 3, depending on the group.

Group A

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    Wales 2-1 Scotland

    Wales and Scotland played out the latest version of the battle of Britain with Craig Levein's team somewhat unlucky to come away from the City of Cardiff Stadium with a defeat.

    The Scots took the lead through a well-worked goal from James Morrison after the returning Steven Fletcher had flicked the ball on from the edge of the box.

    The West Brom man was then guilty of some glaring misses before the referee's assistant, somewhat amazingly, disallowed a Fletcher goal after he thought the ball had gone out of play. TV replays proved that the decision was an extremely wrong one.

    However, there was nothing Scotland, Levein or Morrison could have done against the force of nature that was Gareth Bale.

    The Spurs man terrorised the Scottish defence all night and scored twice, once from the penalty spot after being brought down, and then from an absolute thunderbolt into the top corner of the far post after running with the ball from the half-way line.

    Serbia 0-3 Belgium

    Belgium maintained their grip on Group A with a superb display away from home as they completely dismissed the highly thought-of Serbians.

    Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, Chelsea's Kevin De Bruyne and Everton's Kevin Mirallas were all on the score-sheet as the Serbians were forced to make do without Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic, who had announced his international retirement during the summer.

    FYR Macedonia 1-2 Croatia

    Croatia kept up with early pacesetter Belgium by coming away from Macedonia with a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

    In front of 32,000 home fans, Croatia had to win the hard way by coming from behind after Agim Ibraimi had stolen an early first-half lead for the home team.

    Professional as ever, the Croats hit back through Vedran Corluka just before half-time, and Ivan Rakitic who scored a free kick on 60.

    From there, there was no way back for the home side.

    To see the Group A table after all five teams have played three games each, click here.

Group B

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    Armenia 1-3 Italy

    Italy were made to work hard for their win by an honest Armenian side and had to rely on the expertise and experience of Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo to get them through a tough night.

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan briefly put smiles on the 32,000 partisan home crowd when he equalised for the home side, with the goal of the game, midway through the first half.

    Bulgaria 1-1 Denmark

    Group B was always likely to be Italy's to lose, so gaining full points against the rest of the teams in the group is of full importance. Whoever finishes second in this group will have earned the right, so 10-man Bulgaria can be very happy with their haul of five points from their first three games against Italy, Armenia and the Danes.

    Dimitar Rangelov put the hosts up after just seven minutes, but then disaster struck when Ivan Bandalovski received his marching orders in the 25th minute.

    From there, it was all hands on deck as Denmark poured forward, but Niklas Bendtner was their only player to break the Bulgarian resistance with a well-taken goal just before half time.

    Czech Republic 3-1 Malta

    The Czech Republic stayed close to Italy, on top of Group B, with their first win of the campaign against lowly Malta, who have now suffered defeat in all three of the opening games.

    Theodor Gebre Selassie, Tomas Pekhart and Jan Rezek all scored while Malta's solitary strike came in the form of an unexpected equaliser from the wonderfully named Roderick Biffa just before half time.

    To see the Group B table, click here.

Group C

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    Ireland 1-6 Germany

    Ireland suffered their worst home defeat to a German side who never even got out of second gear.

    Giovani Trapattoni's side have a terrible record against top class opposition, but few would have thought the Germans would have ripped them apart so easily.

    The result came thanks to goals from Marco Reus (2), Mesut Ozil, Miroslav Klose and Toni Kroos (2),  while Ireland managed their first shot on target in the 91st minute, which forced Manuel Neuer to make a smart save. The Irish then scored from the resulting corner deep into injury time.

    Kazakhstan 0-0 Austria

    With the Germans heavy favourites to take first place, the rest of the teams in Group C are merely battling for a playoff place. Austria and Kazakhstan played out a 0-0 draw in the first of their two encounters during the International window. They play each other again in Vienna on Tuesday.

    Faroe Islands 1-2 Sweden

    Sweden went into their local derby against the Faroes as favourites but had to work for every inch of ground in their effort to come out as victors.

    Rógvi Baldvinsson gave the hosts a surprise lead 12 minutes into the second half.

    However, Sweden pulled the game back into conventional territory through goals from Alexander Kacaniklic and a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal that denied the plucky Faroese a memorable win.

    To see the Group C table and the upcoming fixtures, click here.

Group D

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    Holland 3-0 Andorra

    Holland moved onto nine points from three games with a routine win over Andorra. The game was as good as over after just seven minutes when Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring for the Dutch.

    Klass-Jan Huntelaar added the second after 15 and from there the game was nothing more than a training session. The third arrived just five minutes into the second half after Ruben Schaken slotted home to leave the Andorrans well-shaken and stirred.

    Their first big test will be on Tuesday next when the face Romania away, with the Romanians also on full points after the first three games.

    Estonia 0-1 Hungary

    Not a game for lovers of the beautiful game, Hungary took full points in Estonia after Tamás Hajnal scored the only goal of the match one minute into the second half.

    Hajnal's goal was the one true moment of quality in the game when he curled the ball home from the edge of the box to give his team the lead their domination had deserved.

    Turkey 0-1 Romania

    Gheorghe Grozav scored the only goal of the game as Romania held off a stiff challenge from Turkey in Istanbul.

    The result sets up a massive game for the Romanians with Holland visiting next week, but it also leaves the Turks with just three points from three games and facing an earlier than expected elimination unless results go their way.

    To see the Group D table and the upcoming fixtures, click here.

Group E

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    Switzerland 1-1 Norway

    Brede Hangeland was Norway's hero after his late equaliser gave Norway a share of the spoils in Berne against Group E leaders Switzerland. His goal came after Mario Gavranovic had scored just minutes earlier.

    The result was an important one for the entire group because if the Swiss had won, they would have had the group in the palm of their hand while Norway would have been realistically eliminated.

    Slovenia 2-1 Cyprus

    PSV Enidhoven's Tim Matavz added to his growing reputation with a brace as the Slovenians held off a late fight-back from an ever-improving Cypriot team.

    Matavz, who now has nine goals in 17 internationals for Slovenia, has seven goals in seven appearances for the Dutch side this season and is perhaps the only reason the Slovenians have not been cut loose from this incredibly tight group.

    Albania 1-2 Iceland

    Tirana is never an easy place to go, but with quality players like Tottenham Hotspur's Gylfi Sigurdsson and Cardiff City's Aron Gunnarrson in the side, Lars Lagerback's side are always going to cause problems and most likely score.

    This team represents a new young breed of Icelandic player. Having never qualified for a major tournament in their entire history, they will be more than happy to be in second place just one point behind the Swiss, who they play next week. Dark horses for Rio, anyone?

    To see the Group E table and the upcoming fixtures, click here.

Group F

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    Russia 1-0 Portugal

    In front of a half-empty Luzhniki Stadium, Russia dispatched group favourites Portugal to leave the group on a knife edge for the remaining qualifiers.

    Aleksandr Kerzhakov was the difference between the two sides after the forward latched onto Roman Shirokov through ball after the entire Portuguese defence went missing after just six minutes.

    Russia then sat back and defended deeply, which left Portugal making pot shots from outside the box as the game ran with the Russians as comfortable winners.

    Luxembourg 0-6 Israel

    Israel pulled off a massive result when they beat lowly Luxumbourg 6-0 in emphatic fashion.

    Maharan Radi, Eden Ben Basat and Maor Melikson all scored while Tomer Hemed's scored a memorable hat trick for the visitors, who were up 2-0 and cruising after just 12 minutes.

    The third arrived on 27 through Hemed's first. From there, it was just a matter of how many the Israelis were going to score.

    To see the Group F table and the upcoming fixtures, click here.

Group G

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    Greece 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The two top teams in Group G played out a goalless draw in Athens despite the home side hitting the woodwork twice— with their only two shots on target in the dull affair.

    Neither side could afford to lose, especially as their nearest rivals Slovakia were expected to take full points at home to Latvia. So as we head into the next phase of games with all three teams with seven points, separated only by the width of a credit card.

    Lichtenstein 0-2 Lithuania

    Lithuania, fresh from their 2-0 defeat to Greece, strolled to an easy 2-0 win over a dreadful Lichtenstein side thanks to a brace from Edgaras Česnauskis on his 36th cap.

    Slovakia 2-1 Latvia

    Marek Hamsik inspired Slovakia to join the top of Group G after his sixth-minute penalty shattered any hope Latvia had of making the game a contest. The second came just three minutes later from the boot of the other Marek, Sapara.

    Latvia did manage a late consolation in the 85th minute, but by then it was a real case of too little, too late, and Slovakia hung on for a win that sets them up for Greece's visit to Belgrade on Tuesday.

    To see the Group G table and the upcoming fixtures, click here.

Group H

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    England 5-0 San Marino

    Officially the worst team in FIFA-dom, San Marino have not scored a goal in 20 matches, so when they travelled to Wembley to take on England, it was a real case of how many the Three Lions were going to score.

    In the end, the first came from the penalty spot and Wayne Rooney after 35 minutes. From then on, it was the Manchester United show.

    Rooney scored a double, becoming England's fifth-highest scorer of all time in the process. Danny Welbeck also scored twice, the first a neat back-flick.

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rounded out the scoring and in doing so set the first father-son combination to score for England as his father, Mark Chamberlain, scored on his debut against Luxembourg in 1982.

    Moldova 0-0 Ukraine

    Moldova, without a point before the draw with Ukraine, were as surprised as anyone at the Ukrainian's negative safety-first approach in the first half.

    By the time they realised their opponents were there for the taking, it was too late. These are definitely points lost as far as Andriy Yarmolenko and company are concerned.

    To see the Group H table and the upcoming fixtures, click here.

Group I

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    Belarus 0-4 Spain

    A hat trick from Pedro inspired Spain to an easy 4-0 win over Belarus in Minsk. His Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba opened the scoring in the 12th minute as Belarus' damage-limitation tactics backfired completely.

    Spain now sit on top of Group I as joint leaders with France, who they play on Tuesday.

    Finland 1-1 Georgia

    With two such heavyweights in a five-team group, every match not involving either Spain or France has been relegated to being nothing more than an expensive friendly.

    Kasper Hamalainen's 63rd-minute equaliser gave 10-man Finland a 1-1 draw with Georgia, who had led through Guram Kashia's 56th-minute strike.

    To see the Group I table and the upcoming fixtures, click here.