Tuesday, April 24, 2018

European World Cup qualifiers review

Last night saw a host of qualification games for World Cup 2014 take place.

There were some big results on the night, with some of Europe’s high ranking teams taking control of their groups.

England was one of those teams as the Three Lions hammered minnows San Marino 5-0 at Wembley.

Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck scored goals in the first half, after the visitors had frustrated England for 35 minutes by putting ten men behind the ball.

Rooney and Welbeck both scored their braces in the second half and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored his first international goal.

England are now top of their group, but face Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday night. England’s group rivals Ukraine could only manage a 0-0 draw in Moldova. The result now gives Roy Hodgson’s side a big advantage in group.

Wales secured a 2-1 victory over Scotland at the Cardiff City Stadium. West Brom midfielder James Morrison gave the visitors the lead in the first half, before a late brace from Gareth Bale gave Chris Coleman his first win in charge of Wales.

Elsewhere in Group A Croatia won 2-1 in Macedonia and Belgium won 3-0 in Serbia. The victories leave Belgium and Croatia very much in charge of the group. Both Wales and Scotland will have to hope for the pair to slip-up along the way if they have any hope of qualifying from the group.

In Group C Germany thrashed the Republic of Ireland 6-1 in Dublin. Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus struck a first half brace. Toni Kroos added a brace in the second half, with Mesut Ozil and Miroslav Klose also getting on the score sheet.

Ireland did get a consolation in injury-time through Andy Keogh, but in truth they were completely outclassed by the superb Germans. Also in Group C Sweden won 2-1 in the Faroe Islands, while Austria and Kazakhstan drew 0-0.

In Group I reigning World Champions Spain won 4-0 in Belarus. Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez struck a hat-trick with Barca teammate Jordi Alba getting the other goal. Finland and Georgia drew 1-1.

Group F saw Russia defeat Portugal 1-0 in Moscow, courtesy of a goal from Alexander Kerzhakov. The victory means that Russia is top of the group with maximum points so far, with Portugal second after two previous victories.

Israel is third in Group F, after the Israeli’s won 6-0 in Luxembourg, who remains bottom with just a point to show for their three group games so far.

In Group B Italy claimed a 3-1 away win in Armenia. The Azzurri took the lead through a Andrea Pirlo first half penalty, before talented midfielder Henrikh Mkhitryan equalised for the home side. The visitors secured the win however in the second half through goals from Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo.

The Czech Republic also claimed maximum points in Group B by defeating Malta 3-1. Elsewhere Bulgaria and Denmark played out a 1-1 draw in Sofia.

Group E seems wide open after group leaders Switzerland drew 1-1 with Norway. Slovenia defeated Cyprus 2-1. Iceland kept themselves in the hunt for a qualification place with a 2-1 victory in Albania.

Holland seems in complete control of Group D, but could only manage to beat minnows Andorra 3-0 in Feyenoord, the Dutch goals coming from Rafael Van Der Vaart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Debutant Ruben Schaken.

Elsewhere in Group D Romania won 1-0 in Turkey and Hungary won 1-0 in Estonia. Holland and Romania are now joint top of the group with nine points out of a possible nine. Hungary is third on six points.

Group G saw Greece draw at home to Bosnia, Slovakia win 2-1 against Latvia and Lithuania win 2-0 in Liechtenstein. The results leave Bosnia, Slovakia and Greece all on seven points at the head of the group table with Lithuania trailing on four. Both Latvia and Liechtenstein are yet to claim any points.

Which of Europe’s big teams have looked the most impressive so far in qualifying?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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