The FIFA date started with 11 International matches this Friday, including six corresponding to the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Let’s take a quick look at each game.
Euro 2012 qualifying – Group A
Austria 0-2 Belgium
Austria missed a very good chance to put some distance between them and the Belgian and Turkish squads in the Group A, which is comfortably led by Germany.
Belgium jumps to the second place of the group, although with one more game than Austria and Turkey.
Quick Analysis: The Belgians already visited the three strongest teams in their group, so a 2-1-2 record so far is not so bad for them.
Euro 2012 qualifying – Group C
Slovenia 0-1 Italy
Serbia 2-1 Northern Ireland
Italy had to wait until the 73rd minute to finally open the mark thanks to Thiago Motta’s powerful shot from the edge of the area, but the truth is they were clearly superior in this match.
Meanwhile, in Belgrade, Northern Ireland almost took advantage of playing in an empty stadium (due to Serbia’s ban for the incidents in Italy of last year), going to the break with a 0-1 lead, but in the end the hosts managed to leave with the victory thanks to Marko Pantelic and Zoran Tosic.
Quick Analysis: La Squadra Azzurra keeps their good pace in the qualifiers, securing a six-point lead over Slovenia and Serbia, who seem destined to battle until the end for the second place. The Irish squad had surprised by staying undefeated in the first three matches, including a victory at Slovenia and a draw against Italy, so we can’t rule out them yet anyway.
Euro 2012 qualifying – Group D
Luxembourg 0-2 France
The French side repeated the score of their victory in October over the weakest side in their group.
Patrice Evra and Franck Ribéry returned to Les Bleus after their bans for their roles in last year's fiasco in South Africa, where France players went on strike to support Nicolas Anelka after he was sent home for insulting the coach Raymond Domenech.
Both Evra and Ribéry were booed by almost 2000 Frenchmen who travelled for this game.
Philippe Mexes and Yoann Gourcuff scored a goal in each half to give Laurente Blanc's boys three more points, although the margin of their victory should have been much wider.
Quick Analysis: France has a four-point lead in what could be considered the weakest group in the Qualifying Round. They haven’t been impressive, but it seems they won’t have any trouble to get their ticket to Poland/Ukraine 2012.
Euro 2012 qualifying – Group E
Hungary 0-4 Holland
The Clockwork Orange visited the second-place team in their group, and they had no problem crushing them.
The Hungarian resistance lasted only eight minutes. After that, Rafael van der Vaart, Ibrahim Afellay, Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie scored to give the Oranje their 13th straight victory in a Qualifying Round game—counting both FIFA World Cup and Euro.
Quick Analysis: With five victories in five matched, Netherlands is on route to an easy qualification to the Euro 2012. The Magyar side will fight with Sweden for the second place.
Euro 2012 qualifying – Group I
Spain 2-1 Czech Republic
Jaroslav Plasil scored at 29th minute to give La Furia Roja their first scare in this round, but David Villa scored twice in the second half to bring the match back to normal.
Thanks to his 45th and 46th goals with the Spanish side, El Guaje Villa became Spain’s sole top-scorer of all-time. Until yesterday, he shared that spot with former Real Madrid’s striker Raúl González.
Other player who celebrated a personal mark was Xavi Hernández, who played his 100th game with the World Champion squad.
Quick Analysis: Four games, four victories. Spain will be back in the Euro to defend the crowd they won in 2008. Meanwhile, Czech Republic proved they are the second best team in their group and should reach the final phase via playoff.
Korea Republic 4-0 Honduras
China 1-1 New Zealand
Estonia 2-0 Uruguay
Montenegro 1-0 Uzbekistan
Lithuania 2-0 Poland
Uruguay’s defeat was the biggest surprise of the day, even if it was just a friendly match.
Estonia took the lead on 62 minutes through Konstantin Vassiljev, and two minutes later Vjatsheslav Zahovaiko added the second goal on a corner kick.
In Seoul, Lee Jung-soo, Kim Jung-woo, Park Chu-young and Lee Keun-ho scored to give the Korean side the most impressive win of the day.
An own goal from Andrew Boyens in the second minute gave China the lead, but Michael McGlinchey equalized with a long-range shot.
Simon Vukcevic's last minute goal saw Montenegro overcome Uzbekistan 1-0, while two first half goals from Saulius Mikoliunas and Edgaras Cesnauskis gave Lithuania a good win against troubled Poland,
Quick Analysis: The World Cup semifinalists missed Luis Suárez and Edison Cavani, but still their poor display in the snow was a disappointment. I was also surprised by Honduras losing by such a big margin.
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