World Cup Qualifying Wrap: Ronaldo Stars
Qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup resumed Friday with a full schedule of matches in all nine UEFA groups, and as teams from across the continent competed, we saw golazos, upsets, drama, red cards and just about everything in between.
To keep you up to date on the latest results and standings, we have a full wrap of all the day's action.
Keep reading for all the news from every group and fixture.
Scotland 0-2 Belgium
Belgium closed in on automatic qualification with a win at Scotland.
Steven Defour scored against the run of play in the 38th minute to give Belgium a 1-0 lead. Kevin De Bruyne found space on the right and crossed for Defour, who provided a first-time finish.
Kevin Mirallas then made it 2-0 in the 89th minute, freeing himself from his marker before powering his shot into the net.
The result kept Belgium atop Group A, five points ahead of Croatia with two matches remaining. Scotland prop up the group with five points.
Belgium can clinch automatic qualification with a win or draw at Croatia on Oct. 11.
Serbia 1-1 Croatia
Both teams had a man sent off, as Serbia held second-placed Croatia to a draw. The result, however, eliminated Serbia from contention.
Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring for Croatia in the 53rd minute, only for Aleksandar Mitrovic to equalise 13 minutes later. Serbia's Nemanja Matic was sent off in the 75th minute, and Croatia's Josip Simunic followed five minutes later.
Croatia must beat Belgium at home next month to have a chance at winning the group.
Macedonia 2-1 Wales
Gareth Bale, the world's most expensive player, remained on the bench for the full 90 minutes, as Wales lost, 2-1, at Macedonia.
Ivan Trickovski put Macedonia ahead in the 20th minute, but Aaron Ramsey leveled for Wales from the penalty spot six minutes before the break. Aleksandar Trajkovski grabbed the winner 10 minutes from time.
Czech Republic 1-2 Armenia
Karlen Mkrtchyan and Gevorg Ghazaryan scored, as Armenia stunned the Czech Republic in Prague.
Mkrtchyan put the visitors ahead with a first-half wonder-goal (see video), but Tomas Rosicky leveled for the Czechs in the second half with a deflected shot.
TomáŠ Sivok, Theodor Gebre Selassie and Michal Kadlec missed chances for the Czech Republic, and Ghazaryan made them pay, combining with Yura Movsisyan before slotting past Petr Čech for the winner in stoppage time.
Armenia, who beat Denmark, 4-0, in their last match, moved up to fourth with nine points, one behind second-placed Bulgaria. The Czechs also have nine points, but are third based on goal differential.
Italy 1-0 Bulgaria
Alberto Gilardino scored the only goal in the 38th minute, as Italy grabbed a nervy win at home to Bulgaria. The match featured a brilliant stop by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who kept out Bulgaria with a superb reflex save on the line.
Italy top the group with 17 points with three matches remaining. Another win at home to the Czech Republic on Tuesday would seal automatic qualification as group winners.
Malta 1-2 Denmark
An own goal by Malta's Ryan Camillieri in the 53rd minute gave Denmark the win. Leon Andreasen put the visitors ahead in the second minute, but Clayton Failla equalised seven minutes before halftime.
With nine points, fifth-placed Denmark remain alive in the race for the playoffs.
Republic of Ireland 1-2 Sweden
Anders Svensson marked his record-tying 143rd appearance for Sweden with a second-half winner, as the visitors came from behind to defeat the Republic of Ireland in Dublin. With the win, Sweden took control of the race for second place and a spot in the qualification playoffs.
With the score tied, 1-1, in the 57th minute, Svensson ran onto Zlatan Ibrahimovic's defence-splitting pass and stroked the ball into the net for the winner. Ireland had taken the lead in the 21st minute through Robbie Keane's 60th international goal, but Johan Elmander equalised for Sweden 12 minutes later with a powerful header.
Through seven of 10 matches, Germany lead Group C with 19 points. Sweden (14 points) sit three points ahead of chasing Austria and Ireland.
Germany 3-0 Austria
Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller scored as group leaders Germany comfortably defeated neighbours Austria in Munich.
Klose's goal was his 68th for Germany, tying Gerd Muller's team record.
Kazakhstan 2-1 Faroe Islands
Minnows Kazakhstan came from behind to beat bottom-dwellers Faroe Islands. Frodi Benjaminsen put the visitors ahead in the 23d minute, but Nurbol Zhumaskaliyev (penalty) and Andrei Finonchenko scored in the second half for Kazakhstan.
Estonia 2-2 Netherlands
Konstantin Vassiljev's brace nearly gave Estonia an upset over the Netherlands, but Robin van Persie converted a late penalty to grab a draw for the visitors.
Arjen Robben scored after just two minutes to give Holland an early lead, but Vassiljev leveled for the hosts with an individual strike 16 minutes later. His second strike, a deft chip in the 57th minute, put Estonia ahead, 2-1.
With just moments separating Estonia from a famous upset, van Persie leveled from the spot late in stoppage time. Raio Piiroja was sent off on the play for his second yellow card.
Romania 3-0 Hungary
Ciprian Marica, Mihai Pintilii (golazo) and Cristian Tanase scored, as Romania recorded a comprehensive victory over rivals and neighbours Hungary in Bucharest.
With the win, Romania leap-frogged Hungary into second place, six points behind leaders Holland with three matches remaining.
Turkey 5-0 Andorra
Umut Bulut hit a hat-trick—including a superb long-distance curler—as Turkey remained in contention for the playoffs with a comfortable win over minnows Andorra.
Burak Yilmaz and Arda Turan scored the other goals for Turkey, who have 10 points from seven matches—three points behind Romania for second.
Switzerland 4-4 Iceland
Johann Gudmundsson completed a hat-trick with a stoppage-time equaliser, as Iceland came from three goals down to deny Switzerland in a thrilling draw.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Gudmundsson curled in a long-distance shot with his left foot from the right side to level the score at 4-4. He also tallied in the third and 68th minutes.
After Gudmundsson's early opener, Switzerland scored the next four goals through Stephan Lichtsteiner (two), Fabian Schar and Blerim Dzemaili. Trailing, 4-1, in the 54th minute, Iceland started the comeback just two minutes later via Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's goal.
Switzerland top Group E with 15 points through seven matches, and Iceland are fourth with 10.
Norway 2-0 Cyprus
Tarik Elyounoussi (43') and Joshua King (66') scored as Norway moved up to second place.
Slovenia 1-0 Albania
Slovenia upset Albania—who were previously in second place—behind Kevin Kampl's first-half goal. With three matches left, Slovenia remain alive in the race for the playoffs just two points behind Norway.
Northern Ireland 2-4 Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo dragged Portugal to victory with a second-half hat-trick, his first at the international level.
Bruno Alves put Portugal ahead in the 21st minute, but Northern Ireland leveled through Gareth McAuley 15 minutes later. Portugal's Helder Postiga was sent off just before halftime, and the hosts took a shocking lead seven minutes after the break via Jamie Ward.
But then, Chris Brunt was sent off for the home side, and after that, Ronaldo took over.
The Real Madrid superstar leveled with a header in the 68th minute, then put Portugal ahead with another header nine minutes later. Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty also saw red in the 80th minute, before Ronaldo finished off his hat-trick with an 83rd-minute free kick.
The win sent Portugal back to the top of Group F ahead of Russia, who defeated Luxembourg earlier Friday. Russia have a game in hand.
Russia 4-1 Luxembourg
The hosts cruised courtesy of Aleksandr Kokorin's brace and single goals from Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Aleksandr Samedov.
Aurelien Joachim scored for Luxembourg, briefly making the score 3-1.
Russia can retake top spot in Group F with a home win over Israel on Tuesday.
Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-1 Slovakia
Viktor Pecovsky scored the lone goal in the 77th minute, as Slovakia upset group leaders Bosnia in Zenica.
Previously unbeaten, Bosnia took a three-point lead into the match, but could not score on any of their 18 shots (one on target). With the win, Slovakia moved with four points of Bosnia.
Liechtenstein 0-1 Greece
Greece drew level with Bosnia atop the group with a tight 1-0 win at minnows Liechtenstein.
Kostas Mitroglou scored the only goal in the 72nd minute. Both teams had a player sent off.
Latvia 2-1 Lithuania
Nauris Bulvitis and Arturs Zjuznis scored for the hosts, who won for the second time in qualification. Deivydas Matulevicius pulled one back for Lithuania, who remain winless.
All the goals came before half-time.
England 4-0 Moldova
Hosts England cruised past Moldova and could have scored even more in a lopsided match at Wembley. Danny Welbeck scored twice, and Rickie Lambert added a goal and two assists for the Three Lions, who took over top spot in Group H on goal difference.
Captain Steven Gerrard opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a pinpoint low shot. Lambert (26') and Welbeck (45') made it 3-0 by half-time, and Welbeck—who will miss England's next match through yellow-card accumulation—completed the scoring in the 50th minute with a clipped finish.
Lambert, who also scored on his England debut, became the first player to score in his first two senior internationals since 1976.
England, who have a match in hand on second-placed Montenegro, travel to Ukraine on Tuesday.
Poland 1-1 Montenegro
Hosts Poland held Montenegro to a 1-1 draw, allowing England to move to the top of the group.
Both goals came in the opening 20 minutes. Dejan Damjanovic put Montenegro ahead in the 12th minute, only for Robert Lewandowski to equalise with a powerful move and finish four minutes later.
Montenegro have 15 points through eight matches. Poland are fourth with 10 points through seven matches.
Ukraine 9-0 San Marino
Eight different players scored, as Ukraine romped past minnows San Marino.
Yevhen Khacheridi scored twice, and Marko Devic, Yevhen Seleznyov, Edmar Aparesida, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Roman Bezus, Artem Fedetskyy and Yaroslav Rakitskiy added one apiece.
Ukraine are third with 14 points through seven matches.
Finland 0-2 Spain
Spain opened up a three-point lead in Group I with a 2-0 win at Finland.
Jordi Alba put the visitors ahead in the 19th minute, and Alvaro Negredo added the second four minutes from time, finishing from Jesus Navas' pass.
Spain manager Vicente del Bosque opted to start Iker Casillas ahead of Barcelona's Victor Valdes in goal. Casillas has not played a minute this season for Real Madrid.
Casillas made one save, stopping Teemu Pukki in the 13th minute.
Spain top the group with 14 points through six matches (two remaining).
Georgia 0-0 France
France failed to keep pace with Spain, laboring to a scoreless draw in Georgia.
Olivier Giroud started in the attack with Karim Benzema, but failed to find the net, despite a hot start to the club season with Arsenal.
France dominated with 71 percent possession and 22 shots (five on target), but could not beat Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Loria, who made two saves in stoppage time to preserve the draw.
Georgia sit in fourth place with five points.