Spain won all three of their Group I games in the fall but with 21 minutes left trailed the Czech Republic in Granada. David Villa levelled the scores, moving him one ahead of Raúl’s record of 44 goals for Spain. Villa then converted a penalty to leave the world and European champions six points clear of the Czechs with four games each left.
Holland were impressive winning in Hungary, as they opened up a six-point lead with their 4-0 victory; the sides are rematched in Amsterdam on Tuesday. France also won on the road, their fourth 2-0 Group D victory in a row proving hard-earned in Luxembourg and taking them four points ahead of Belarus.
There were two matches in Group C, where Italy moved six points clear of Slovenia thanks to Thiago Motta’s 73rd-minute goal in Ljubljana. Serbia joined Slovenia on seven points, coming from behind to defeat Northern Ireland 2-1. In Friday’s other game, Belgium took second place in Group A from Austria with a 2-0 win in Vienna. That means leaders Germany could go eight points clear by beating Kazakhstan in one of 13 qualifiers to be played on Saturday.