We’ve had the preview. Now here’s the review…
EUROPE WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Belgium secured their place atop Group A and at Brazil 2014 with victory in Croatia. Two goals from the in-form Romelu Lukaku makes Tuesdays game a party. This round was also a good one for Wales who got themselves off the bottom of the group with a win over Macedonia in Cardiff. Simon Church scored the decisive goal as the Macedonians replaced Wales at the bottom.
The early kick off in Armenia saw the hosts defeat nine man Bulgaria 2-1. Yura Movsisyan got the winning goal late on. That left an opening for Denmark to grab second place but they were thwarted by the visiting Italians. Nicklas Bendtner getting both of Denmark’s goals but Alberto Aquilani scored in stoppage time to earn a 2-2 draw for the visitors. In the other game, bottom side Malta were swept away at home by the Czech Republic. Vaclac Kadlec was amngst the scorers in the 4-1 win for the Czechs.
Germany confirmed their place in Brazil with a comfortable 3-0 win over Ireland in Cologne with Sami Khedira amongst the scorers. Second place was also decided as a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic winner clinched the spot for Sweden. They ran out 2-1 winners against Austria. The dead rubber between the two bottom sides between the Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan saw the home side pick up their first point in the group with a 1-1 draw.
Hungary started the night in second place but dropped to fourth following their 8-1 drubbing in Holland. Robin van Persie caused most of the damage with his hat trick making him the record goal scorer for the Dutch. Goals from Umut Bulut and Burak Yilmaz gave Turkey a 2-0 win and moved them into second in the group. They’re level on points with Romania who won comfortably in Andorra. Gabriel Torje scored from the spot in their 4-0 win.
Switzerland were another side that booked their place in Brazil following their nervy 2-1 win in Albania. Michael Lang’s first goal for the Swiss proved to be the decider. Iceland strengthened their grip on second place with a 2-0 home win over bottom side Cyprus. Spurs midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson was on the scoresheet for Iceland. Slovenia are right behind Iceland after ending Norway’s hopes in Maribor. Milivoje Novakovic’s hat trick was the difference for the Slovenians who ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
Russia have one hand on the automatic qualifying place after their 4-0 win in Luxembourg. Aleksander Kerzhakov rounded off the victory for Fabio Capello’s side. Portugal are now three points behind the leaders heading into the final round after they drew at home with third placed Israel. Eden Ben Basat ensure the game finished 1-1 five minutes from the end. Northern Ireland had a bad time on their visit to bottom side Azerbaijan. Goals from Rufat Dadashov and Mahir Shukurov saw the Azerbaijanis go above Northern Ireland and leaving their visitors joint bottom with Luxembourg heading into the final round.
It’s still level at the top of Group G as both Bosnia Herzegovina and Greece won at home. The Bosnians swept past Liechtenstein 4-1 in large part thanks to Edin Dzeko’s brace. Greece on the other hand squeezed past third placed Slovakia 1-0 due to a comical Martin Skrtel own goal. The other group match saw Lithuania comfortably beat Latvia 2-0 in Vilnius.
It was a big night in terms of deciding who goes to Brazil from this group. Top of the table England beat Montenegro 4-1 at Wembley to have one foot on the plane. Spurs winger Andros Townsend impressed and scored on his debut for England. They are one point ahead of second placed Ukraine who ended Poland’s hopes with 1-0 win in Kharkov. Andriy Yarmolenko scored the only goal for Ukraine who are now three points ahead of third place Montenegro heading into the final round. The other group game saw second bottom Moldova dispatch of whipping boys San Marino 3-0 at home.
World and European champions Spain just beat Belarus in Mallorca to move three points ahead of France with one game to go. Xavi and Alvaro Negredo scored for the Spanish who were frightened by Sergei Kornilenko’s late goal. The 2-1 defeat confirms Belarus will finish bottom of the group.
CONCACAF WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Honduras all but guaranteed their second consecutive World Cup apperance following the home win over Costa Rica. Jerry Bengtson got the only goal just after the hour mark for the Hondurans. The Honduran win meant that the late game in Mexico City would be huge in deciding who gets the play-off spot. Hosts Mexico beat a gritty Panama side 2-1 but it took a stunning late goal from Raul Jimenez to get the three points. The group’s other game saw the USA confirm themselves as winners of the group with a 2-0 win over bottom side Jamaica in Kansas City. Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore got the crucial goals.
SOUTH AMERICAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
The top five teams are set in place for South America although the final order is yet to be determined. This is all because Venezuela drew their final game at home to bottom side Paraguay 1-1 with Luis Seijas’ late equaliser not being enough in the end. That result is of big relief to Uruguay who struggled in Ecuador and were ultimately beaten by a lone Jefferson Montero goal. Game of the night happened in Barranquilla where Colombia and Chile had a game involving a comeback, three penalties, a red card and a whole lot of talking points. The home side came back from three down to beat the ten man Chileans with two Radamel Falcao penalties getting Colombia the point. That point means that they will be at the World Cup for the first time since 1994. The other game saw Argentina confirm themselves as group winners after coming from behind to beat Peru in Buenos Aires. PSG winger Ezequiel Lavezzi got a brace in the 3-1 triumph.
France dominated a very poor Australia side in Paris. Olivier Giroud got two of the French goals in a 6-0 thumping of the Socceroos. Serbia dispatched of Japan in Novi Sad 2-0 in the nights other friendly.
That is the international review. What performance – team or individual – stood out for you? Get in touch here, on Twitter and on Facebook.