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Wednesday 17 October 2012

2014 World Cup: Giroud halts Spain; Balotelli inspires Azzurri

Barclays Premier League stars were in action throughout Europe in Tuesday's internationals

  • Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud wheels away after scoring France's late leveller against Spain

  • Mario Balotelli was on target for the Azzurri in their 3-1 win over Denmark

  • Per Mertesacker scored his second Germany goal but his side squandered a four-goal lead

  • England's Joe Hart trudges off a waterlogged pitch in Warsaw before the postponement

Sixty-four Barclays Premier League players produced 12 goals on Wednesday night as Mario Balotelli scored in Italy's defeat of Denmark, Olivier Giroud's last-gasp equaliser ended Spain's 25-match winning run and Christian Benteke scored his second goal in as many matches for Belgium against Scotland on an eventful night in Europe's FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

Group A

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke broke the deadlock for Belgium against stubborn Scottish resistance in Brussels as the home side eventually won 2-0. Benteke scored his second goal in four days on 69 minutes and the lead was doubled by Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany shortly afterwards.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen and Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen both played the whole match in defence, while Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Everton forward Kevin Mirallas came on as substitutes. Scotland had nine Barclays Premier League players in action. Alan Hutton (Aston Villa), Danny Fox (Southampton), Gary Caldwell, Shaun Maloney, James McArthur (all Wigan Athletic), Darren Fletcher (Manchester United), Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) and James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion) started while  Jamie Mackie, the Queens Park Rangers forward, was a second-half substitute.

A Wales side featuring seven players from the English top flight were unable to build on their victory over Scotland last week in going down 2-0 away to Croatia. Swansea City defender Ashley Williams led the Welsh side which included Gareth Bale, Tottenham’s two-goal hero from the Scotland win, Reading defender Chris Gunter, Liverpool’s Joe Allen, Norwich City’s Steve Morison, while Reading’s Hal Robson-Kanu and Simon Church were second-half substitutes. Everton striker Nikica Jelavic was an unused substitute for Croatia.

Serbia went down to their second defeat in a row, losing 1-0 to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Manchester City’s Matija Nastasic and Aleksandar Kolarov both started in the Serb defence, while Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic was a 68th-minute substitute.

Belgium and Croatia are joint-leaders on 10 points.

Group B

Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli scored as Italy beat Denmark 3-1 in Milan. Liverpool’s Daniel Agger led the Danish side but was unable to prevent Italy take command of the group by moving to 10 points.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was captain of the Czech Republic side who drew 0-0 at home to Bulgaria, who stayed a point above their opponents in second place.

Group C

Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker scored for Germany, his second goal in 84 appearances, but was unable to prevent Sweden from recovering from 4-0 down to snatch a point with an injury-time equaliser in Berlin. Mertesacker’s club-mate Lukas Podolski was a late substitute for Germany.

For Sweden West Brom defender Jonas Olsson played the whole match, while Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson came off after 78 minutes. Fulham forward Alexander Kacaniklic was a substitute late in the first half.

Stoke City’s Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters both scored as the Republic of Ireland won 4-1 in the Faroe Islands. The Irish starting XI also featured Sunderland goalkeeper Kieren Westwood, Everton’s Seamus Coleman and Wigan midfielder James McCarthy, while West Brom’s Shane Long and Sunderland David Meyler were second-half substitutes.

Aston Villa forward Andreas Weimann was an unused substitute as Austria thrashed Kazakhstan 4-0.

After dropping points for the first time, Germany still lead the group on 10 points with Sweden next on seven and Republic of Ireland on six.

Group D

Having been an unused substitute in the previous match, Manchester United’s Robin van Persie started and scored in the Netherlands’ 4-1 victory away to Romania. Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar was in the Dutch defence. West Brom’s Zoltan Gera struck a 57th-minute penalty as Hungary were 3-1 winners over Turkey in Budapest. Liverpool’s Nuri Sahin played the whole 90 minutes in the Turkish midfield.

The Dutch lead the group on 12 points after four matches but Romania and Hungary are three points behind.

Group E

Arsenal’s Johan Djourou was part of a Swiss defence that repelled Iceland and helped to secure a 2-0 win that kept them top of the group on 10 points. Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson was unable to inspire his Iceland team-mates in Reykjavik.

Manchester United’s Joshua King came off the bench to score his first goal for Norway in the 3-1 victory over Cyprus in Nicosia. Fulham’s Brede Hangeland and John Arne Riise both played the 90 minutes.

Group F

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans and Fulham's Chris Baird and Aaron Hughes led a stoic rearguard action as Northern Ireland held Portugal to a 1-1 draw in Lisbon. Southampton’s Steven Davis captained the Northern Irish against a Portugal side for whom Manchester United winger Nani played the whole match.

Group G

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko scored the second goal as Bosnia & Herzegovina won 3-0 against Lithuania in Zenica. The win kept Bosnia as joint-leaders on 10 points with Greece, who leapfrogged a Slovakia side led by Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel, thanks to a 1-0 victory in Bratislava. Fulham’s Georgios Karagounis came off the bench midway through the second half.

Reading defender Kaspars Gorkss captained Latvia to their first win in qualifying, a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein in Riga.

Group H

The match between England and Poland was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and will be played today at 3pm GMT.

Group I

Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score an injury-time equaliser as France denied world champions Spain a 25th consecutive competitive victory in Madrid. Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris prevented Spain from going 2-0 up in the first half when he saved a Cesc Fabregas penalty conceded by Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny

Manchester City will be concerned that David Silva was withdrawn after only 13 minutes. He was replaced by Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla. The France side also featured Newcastle United’s Yohan Cabaye, while Chelsea forward Fernando Torres was a 75th-minute substitute.

Spain and France both lead the group with seven points.

For a review of Friday's 2014 World Cup qualifiers from Europe click here.

EUROPEAN WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFYING RESULTS

Group A: Croatia 2-0 Wales; FYR Macedonia 1-0 Serbia; Belgium 2-0 Scotland 0
Group B: Czech Republic 0-0 Bulgaria; Italy 3-1 Denmark
Group C: Faroe Islands 1-4 Ireland; Austria 4-0 Kazakhstan; Germany 4-4 Sweden
Group D: Andorra 0-1 Estonia; Romania 1-4 Netherlands; Hungary 3-1 Turkey
Group E: Cyprus 1-3 Norway; Iceland 0-2 Switzerland; Albania 1-0 Slovenia
Group F: Russia 1-0 Azerbaijan; Israel 3-0 Luxembourg; Portugal 1-1 Northern Ireland
Group G: Latvia 2-0 Liechtenstein; Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 Lithuania; Slovakia 0-1 Greece
Group H: Ukraine 0-1 Montenegro; San Marino 0-2 Moldova; Poland P-P England
Group I: Belarus 2-0 Georgia; Spain 1-1 France

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Key Points

  • Sixty-four Barclays Premier League players were in 2014 World Cup qualifying action around Europe
  • Olivier Giroud, Edin Dzeko and Robin van Persie among 12 scorers from the English top flight
  • Poland v England was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch
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