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FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifying Wrap

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterJune 8, 2013

FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifying Wrap

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    Scotland produced the surprise result of 2014 World Cup Qualifying matches on Friday as Robert Snodgrass scored the only goal of the game against Croatia in Zagreb.

    Gordon Strachan's team were already unable to qualify for the finals in Brazil next summer, but were boosted by the Norwich City forward's winner in the first period.

    But what else was happening across the globe in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers?

    Read on to find out more.

Europe

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    GROUP A

    Belgium took full advantage of Croatia's stumble and moved three points clear of Igor Stimac's team at the top of the table.

    Kevin de Bruyne, who has been playing at Werder Bremen on loan from Chelsea this season, sent new Blues boss a timely reminder of his qualities when he opened the scoring in the 13th minute against Serbia.

    Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini headed home the second for Belgium on the hour mark in front of staff from Chelsea, as the Daily Mail reported.

    Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov scored a late consolation for the Serbs.

    If Belgium qualify automatically from Group A, they will owe Robert Snodgrass a credit for his goal in Scotland's 1-0 victory in Croatia.

     

    GROUP B

    Ten-man Italy survived with a point from the Czech Republic thanks to veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

    AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli was dismissed in the 72nd minute after picking up two yellow cards in four minutes.

    But Juventus and Italy captain Buffon, 35, made several fine stops to give his team a four-point lead over second-placed Bulgaria.

    Malta earned their first win of the qualification group with a 1-0 victory in Armenia.

     

    GROUP C

    LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane became the Republic of Ireland's most-capped player in his 126th appearance and celebrated with a hat-trick in the 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands in Dublin.

    The win moved Giovanni Trapattoni's team level on 11 points with second-placed Austria, who defeated Sweden 2-1 in Vienna.

    Germany, however, still hold a five-point advantage at the top of the table.

     

    GROUP E

    Group leaders Switzerland left it late to defeat Cyprus in their match in Geneva on Saturday.

    Haris Seferovic, who has spent this year on loan to Nevara in Serie B from Fiorentina, struck the only goal of the game in the 90th minute as Ottmar Hitzfeld side extended their lead at the top of the group to four points.

    Iceland missed out on the chance to top the group when they were 4-2 by Slovenia in Reykjavik, while Albania were also denied the chance to move above the Swiss by a late Norway equaliser in the 1-1 draw in Tirana.

     

    GROUP F

    Helder Postiga gave Portugal a ninth-minute lead against Russia, which they never surrendered, to fire his team back into contention for automatic qualification.

    The win lifted Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates above the second-placed Russians and Israel in the table.

    However, Portugal have played two games more than Russia and one more than the Israelis.

    At the foot of the group, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg drew 1-1 in Baku to move the home country above Northern Ireland, who are second bottom.

     

    GROUP G

    Bosnia-Herzegovina produced a five-goal second-half blitz in Riga to defeat Latvia 5-0.

    The win maintained Bosnia's three-point advantage at the top of the group over second-placed Greece, who won 1-0 in Lithuania.

    Slovakia, though, were left stunned after only drawing 1-1 against bottom side Liechtenstein.

     

    GROUP H

    England were handed a boost as Ukraine ran out 4-0 winners at group leaders Montenegro.

    The result means the Montenegrins have now played a game more than Roy Hodgson's team, who are two points behind.

    However, Ukraine's big win moved them ominously into third place and a single point behind England ahead of their clash in Kiev on Sept. 10.

    But it was a bad night for Poland, who could only draw 1-1 in Moldova, despite Jakub Blaszczykowski opening the scoring in the seventh minute after combining with Borussia Dortmund teammate Robert Lewandowski.

CONMEBOL

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    Argentina were unable to extend their five-point advantage at the top of the CONMEBOL table as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Colombia in Buenos Aires.

    Barcelona striker Lionel Messi started on the bench for the Argentinians, who had Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain dismissed following a clash with AC Milan defender Cristian Zapata.

    Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero had two goals disallowed for offside during the match as Colombia moved above Ecuador into second place in the table.

    Ecuador slipped in the rankings after their 1-0 defeat to Peru where veteran Bayern Munich striker Claudio Pizarro scored the only goal of the game in Lima.

    The win moved Peru above Uruguay into sixth place in the table and they are now two points behind Venezuela, who drew 1-1 at Bolivia.

    The big South American winners of the weekend were Chile, though, after their 2-1 win in Paraguay moved them up to fourth place and two points behind Ecuador and Colombia.

    Goals from Eduardo Vargas and Arturo Vidal were enough to see off bottom team Paraguay in Asuncion, although former Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz became the country's record goalscorer with his 26th for the national team in the 88th minute.

CONCACAF

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    United States and Costa Rica maintained their positions at the top of the table with vital wins in the CONCACAF section of World Cup qualification.

    AZ Alkmaar striker Jozy Altidore continued his recent good form when he gained the USMNT a 30th-minute lead in Jamaica, but Leicester City forward Jermaine Beckford equalised with a free header from a free-kick.

    But, in injury time, Jurgen Klinsmann's team sealed the win with a late strike from Brad Evans.

    The victory ensured the U.S. kept pace with leaders Costa Rica, who beat Honduras 1-0 on Friday.

    New York Red Bulls defender Roy Miller scored the only goal of a scrappy match when he reacted quickest to Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares' fumble.

    An improving Panama team held Mexico to a 0-0 draw in Panama City, and are now a point behind the third-placed Mexicans, who have played a game more.

Africa

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    Ethiopia continue to defy the odds in the African qualifying section after their 2-1 win in Botswana on Saturday.

    Getaneh Kebede and Saladin Ahmed scored for the bottom-seeded country in Group A before the host nation hit a late consolation.

    Ethiopia remain top of the qualification group by two points from South Africa, who beat Central African Republic 3-0 in Yaoundé.

    Ethiopia play host to Bafana Bafana on June 16 in Addis Ababa where victory over the 2010 World Cup host nation will ensure an unbeatable lead at the top of the table.

    Fakhreddine Ben Youssef scored his first international goal with a last-minute equaliser for Group B leaders Tunisia in the 2-2 draw with Sierra Leone.

    Kaiansu Kamara and Alhassan Kamara had given the Leone Stars the lead in Northern Irish coach Johnny McKinstry's first match in charge, but a Oussama Darragi penalty and Youssef snatched a draw to maintain Tunisia's five-point lead over Sierra Leone.

    Anzhi Makhachkala forward Lacina Traore, Vitesse Arnhem striker Wilfried Bony and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure were all on target as Ivory Coast maintained their lead at the top of Group C with a 3-0 win over Gambia.

    Morocco defeated Tanzania 2-1 to claw back the gap behind their second-placed opponents to one point with two games remaining. But Ivory Coast hold a four-point advantage at the top.

    Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse gave Senegal a first-half lead but Guilherme Afonso of FC Vaduz claimed a point for Angola with his leveller in the second period.

    Uganda moved into second place in the group a point behind Senegal courtesy of a 1-0 win over Liberia.

    Congo maintained their six-point advantage at the top of Group E after a 0-0 draw with Gabon, meaning 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finalists Burkina Faso must win their next game against Niger to keep up their hopes of catching the leaders.

    Zambia moved back to the top of Group D after a 4-0 win over Lesotho gave them a one-point lead over second-placed Ghana.

    However, the Black Stars can top the group again with a win at Lesotho next weekend ahead of the crucial match against Zambia in September.

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