There was no shortage of surprises across Europe on Tuesday and World Cup qualifying continued. Spain were held to a 1-1 draw at home by France, while Germany threw away a four goal lead and had to settle for a 4-4 draw with Sweden. There was frustration for Portugal also, as they has to score late to get a 1-1 result against Northern Ireland.
Elsewhere, the Netherlands and Russia steered clear of any such trouble to stand clear as the only teams in the European Zone yet to drop a point. Here is a group by group look at Tuesday’s European action.
Croatia 2-0 Wales
FYR Macedonia 1-0 Serbia
Belgium 2-0 Scotland
Mario Mandzukic and Eduardo grabbed the goals to keep unbeaten Croatia level at the summit with Belgium, who owed their victory against Scotland to efforts from Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany. Beaten by bottom side FYR Macedonia, in contrast, Serbia now find themselves six points off the pace.
Czech Republic 0-0 Bulgaria
Italy 3-1 Denmark
With the Czech Republic and Bulgaria unable to break the deadlock in Prague, Italy have pulled away at the top thanks to their win against Denmark. Andrea Pirlo was once again inspirational in midfield for Gli Azzurri, his vision and technique allowing him to serve up assists for Daniele de Rossi and Mario Balotelli afterRiccardo Montolivo had opened the scoring.
Faroe Islands 1-4 Republic of Ireland
Austria 3-0 Kazakhstan
Germany 4-4 Sweden
With 56 minutes gone, Germany were leading 4-0 and playing some sublime football, but that was before Zlatan Ibrahimovic reduced the deficit with a powerful header. The goal galvanised the visitors and suddenly it was Germany on the back foot, looking disoriented and forgetting basic instructions. Rasmus Elm’s added-time equaliser was no more than Sweden deserved.
The Republic of Ireland put their heavy loss to Germany behind them by racking up four goals in the Faroe Islands, while Austria helped themselves to three – Marc Janko notching two – as they swept aside Kazakhstan.
Andorra 0-1 Estonia
Hungary 3-1 Turkey
Romania 1-4 Netherlands
Louis van Gaal’s men kept their excellent start going against a Romania team culpable of errors in defence. The Oranje pounced on a pair of mistakes to race into a 2-0 lead after half an hour, and they went on to add two more against opponents who had kept clean sheets in all three of their previous qualifiers.
For their part, Turkey are almost certainly out of the running following yet another loss, this time inHungary. Mevlut Erdinc gave Turkey the perfect start, but the hosts rallied to take control of the game and made their domination count via Vladimir Koman, Adam Szalai and Zoltan Gera. The win sent the victors second in the group, level on points with Romania, and has reignited their qualification hopes.
Cyprus 1-3 Norway
Iceland 0-2 Switzerland
Albania 1-0 Slovenia
Iceland held out for more than an hour before Switzerland sealed maximum points courtesy of Tranquillo Barnetta and Mario Gavranovic to extend their cushion at the top. Slovenia’s revival hopes were thwarted inAlbania, meanwhile, as they suffered a third defeat thus far.
Russia 1-0 Azerbaijan
Israel 3-0 Luxembourg
Portugal 1-1 Northern Ireland
Russia have now made it four wins from four, scoring eight goals and conceding none as Fabio Capello’s methods continue to pay dividends. The Italian coach had to wait until Roman Shirokov’s 84th-minute penalty to finally see off Azerbaijan, but the success took his side five points clear in pole position as main rivals Portugal failed to overcome Northern Ireland. Niall McGinn gave the courageous visitors a shock lead in Porto and it seemed as if untidy finishing would cost Paulo Bento’s troops dearly until Helder Postiga turned in Nani’s ball with 11 minutes left. Try as they might to conjure a late winner, Portugal were unable to prevail.
Elsewhere in the section, Israel continue to force their way back into contention after slotting three goals past Luxembourg, the triumph lifting them level on seven points with the Portuguese.
Latvia 2-0 Liechtenstein
Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 Lithuania
Slovakia 0-1 Greece
Bosnia-Herzegovina enjoyed another prolific outing as Vedad Ibisevic, Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic got their names on the scoresheet against Lithuania to keep their team head of the class on goal difference. In the meeting between the group’s other leading lights, Greece put space between themselves and Slovakiathanks to Dimitrios Salpingidis’s 63rd-minute finish in Bratislava.
Ukraine 0-1 Montenegro
San Marino 0-2 Moldova
Unbeaten Montenegro extended their positive start with an eye-catching 1-0 victory in Ukraine, Dejan Damjanovic making the difference just before half-time. The much-anticipated encounter between Polandand England was unable postponed due to a water logged pitch, despite the stadium having a retractable roof. The game will now take place on Wednesday at 17.00 CET.
Belarus 2-0 Georgia
Spain 1-1 France
Made to suffer in the second half as rarely they have in recent years, world and European champions Spainultimately had to settle for a draw against a willing France side who never gave up. Sergio Ramos headed in from a corner to put La Roja on top, but Hugo Lloris denied Cesc Fabregas from the penalty spot and Les Bleus came out with renewed purpose after the break. Didier Deschamps’ men made life uncomfortable forSpain until Olivier Giroud nodded in a Franck Ribery cross in the closing seconds, and the two teams thus remain locked together at the top of the standings.
In the other match, Belarus posted their first win of the campaign by getting the better of Georgia, Renan Bressan and Stanislav Dragun finding the back of the net in the opening half an hour.