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Saturday 12 October 2013

2014 World Cup: Townsend and Van Persie star

Review of Barclays Premier League players in action in 2014 World Cup qualifying on Friday

  • Robin van Persie clebrates his hat-trick as the Netherlands crush Hungary 8-1

  • Spurs winger Andros Townsend scored one and made one on his England debut

  • Southampton striker Pablo Osvaldo opened the scoring for Italy against Denmark

  • But Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner replied with two goals of his own

  • Newcastle's Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy congratulate France scorer Yohan Cabaye

  • Michu makes his debut for Spain against Belarus

Everton's Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United's Robin van Persie and Tottenham Hotspur's Andros Townsend were among many players from the Barclays Premier League who turned in outstanding goalscoring performances as Belgium, Germany and Switzerland booked their passage to next year's FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil, and England were among the teams to ensure they will at least qualify for the play-offs.

Players from the Barclays Premier League claimed a total of 23 international goals, more than double that of any other top division, the next closest being the German Bundsliga with nine.

Europe: Townsend's dream debut

Group H

Andros Townsend enjoyed an outstanding international debut as England won 4-1 against Montenegro to move to within a final victory of qualifying for next year’s finals. The Spurs winger, who only made his first Barclays Premier League start in February, while on loan at Queens Park Rangers, created England’s first, which was scored by Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney four minutes after the interval, with a lung-bursting raid down the right wing, before an own goal by Branko Boskovic doubled the hosts’ advantage. Although Dejan Damjanovic gave the visitors hope with an instinctive strike on 72 minutes, Townsend crowned a lively performance with a fine strike from 20 yards that swerved in off a post. Daniel Sturridge scored a late penalty after he had been brought down in the area. The win keeps England, who are guaranteed a play-off place, a point clear at the top with one match, at home against Poland, who were beaten 1-0 by second-placed Ukraine.

England (Rooney, Townsend, Sturridge pen) 4-1 Montenegro
Joe Hart (Man City), Kyle Walker (Spurs), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Leighton Baines (Everton), Andros Townsend (Spurs; sub 80), Frank Lampard (Chelsea; sub 65), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool; sub 87), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck (both Man United). Subs: John Ruddy (Norwich City), Michael Carrick (Man United; 65), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Chris Smalling, Phil Jones (Man United), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal; 80), James Milner (Man City; 87), Ross Barkley (Everton), Jermain Defoe (Spurs); Rickie Lambert (Southampton)
Montenegro: Stevan Jovetic (Man City; sub 81)

Ukraine 1-0 Poland
  Boruc (Southampton). Subs: Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski (Arsenal)

Moldova 3-0 San Marino

Group A

Romelu Lukaku continues to justify his burgeoning reputation as a striker of great pedigree as he scored both first-half goals as Belgium overcame Croatia 2-1 in Zagreb to book their first World Cup appearance in 12 years. Les Diables Rouges, for whom eight players from the English top flight featured, gave a strong first-half showing. Former Spurs midfielder Niko Kranjcar reduced the arrears with an 83rd-minute effort for the hosts, who will almost certainly now contest a place in the play-offs. Elsewhere in the group, six Premier League players helped Wales beat FYR Macedonia.

Croatia 1-2 Belgium (Lukaku 2)
Dejan Lovren (Southampton). Subs: Nikica Jelavic (Everton).
Belgium: Jan Vertonghen (Spurs), Marouane Fellaini (Man United), Kevin De Bruyne(Chelsea; sub 65), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Romelu Lukaku (Everton). Subs: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Kevin Mirallas (Everton; 65), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Mousa Dembele (Spurs), Nacer Chadli  (Spurs; 69)

Wales 1-0 FYR Macedonia
Neil Taylor (Swansea City), Declan John (Cardiff City), David Vaughan (Sunderland), James Collins (West Ham United), Craig Bellamy (Cardiff), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal). Subs: Boaz Myhill (West Bromwich Albion), Lloyd Isgrove (Southampton), Harry Wilson (Liverpool), Danny Alfei (Swansea).

Group B

Second place is still up for grabs as Armenia’s late victory over nine-man Bulgaria, thanks to a Yura Movsisyan winner, means four teams are separated by just one point. Czech Republic dispatched Malta 4-1, while Nicklas Bendtner inspired Denmark’s 2-2 draw with Italy. The Arsenal striker scored both his side’s goals, to cancel out Southampton striker Pablo Osvaldo’s opener and the already-qualified Azzurri required an added-time equaliser by former Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani to earn a point. Though galling to concede so late on, the Danes will be favourites to proceed to the play-offs, as they face Malta last.

Armenia 2-1 Bulgaria
Bulgaria: Sub:
Aleksandar Tonev (Aston Villa; 59).
Malta 1-4 Czech Republic
Czech Republic:
Petr Cech (Chelsea)

Denmark (Bendtner 2) 2-2 Italy (Osvaldo)
Daniel Agger (Liverpool), Christian Eriksen (Spurs), Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal)
Italy: Pablo Osvaldo (Southampton). Sub: Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland)

Group C

Germany qualified for the finals by completing a comfortable 3-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in a match featuring 10 players from the Barclays Premier League. Two of them, Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, scored for the hosts after Sami Khedira’s opening goal. Sweden came from behind to defeat an Austria side reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of Stoke City’s Marko Arnautovic and book their place in the play-offs with the help of Martin Olsson’s equaliser. The Norwich City defender headed in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s centre before the Paris Saint-Germain striker produced an 86th-minute winner.

Germany (Schurrle; Ozil) 3-0 Republic of Ireland
Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea).
Republic of Ireland: Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, Darron Gibson (Everton), Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace). Subs: Shane Long (West Brom), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Anthony Pilkington, Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Joey O’Brien, Stephen Henderson (West Ham).

Sweden (Olsson) 2-1 Austria
Martin Olsson (Norwich), Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland), Alexander Kacaniklic (Fulham). Sub: Jonas Olsson (West Brom).
Austria: Marko Arnautovic (Stoke). Sub: Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa; 74)

Faroe Islands 1-1 Kazakhstan

Group D

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie scored a hat-trick as group-winners Netherlands, featuring Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar in defence and Swansea City’s Michel Vorm in goal, demonstrated their superiority with an 8-1 demolition of Hungary. Turkey remain in second place thanks to a 2-0 win in Estonia, but are level on points with Romania, who won 4-0 at Andorra with the help of Tottenham Hotspur’s recent signing Vlad Chiriches, and Fatih Terim’s side face the Oranje in their final match.

Netherlands (Van Persie 3) 8-1 Hungary
Michel Vorm (Swansea), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Robin van Persie (Man United). Subs: Leroy Fer (Norwich; 80), Tim Krul (Newcastle)

Andorra 0-4 Romania
Vlad Chiriches (Spurs).

Estonia 0-2 Turkey

Group E

Goals by Xherdan Shaqiri and Michael Lang in Albania ensured Switzerland will join next year’s tournament in Brazil, while Spurs midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson helped keep Iceland’s hopes of finishing runners-up alive with one of their goals in a 2-0 defeat of Cyprus. Iceland will vie for that spot with Slovenia, who lie a point behind in third after beating Norway 3-0 thanks to Milivoje Novakovic’s treble.

Iceland (Sigurdsson) 2-0 Cyprus
: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Spurs), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff).

Albania 1-2 Switzerland
: Subs: Pajtim Kasami, Philippe Senderos (Fulham).

Slovenia 3-0 Norway
Brede Hangeland (Fulham).

Group F

Portugal appear destined for the play-offs after conceding a late equaliser to Israel in Lisbon. With Manchester United winger Nani featuring alongside his former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, a victory appeared imminent thanks to Ricardo Costa’s effort, but Eden Ben Basat capitalised on a defensive error five minutes from time, leaving Russia, who routed Luxembourg 4-0, in need of just a point in Azerbaijan, who beat Northern Ireland 2-0 after Man United’s Jonny Evans was sent off, on Tuesday.

Portugal 1-1 Israel
Nani (Man United).

Luxembourg 0-4 Russia

Azerbaijan 2-0 Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland:
Gareth MacAuley (West Brom), Jonny Evans (Man United), Steven Davies (Southampton), Chris Brunt (West Brom; sub 74), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle). Subs: Alex Bruce (Hull City)

Group G

Bosnia & Herzegovina and Greece remain locked at the top of the group going into their final matches after home victories on Friday night. Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko helped himself to a brace as the Bosnians ran out 4-1 winners over Liechtenstein, while Greece edged a narrow affair against Slovakia, for whom Martin Skrtel scored at the wrong end after goalkeeper Jan Mucha allowed the Liverpool defender’s back-pass to elude his control.

Bosnia & Herzegovina (Dzeko 2) 4-1 Liechtenstein
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Asmir Begovic (Stoke), Edin Dzeko (Man City)

Greece (Skrtel og) 1-0 Slovakia
Greece: Sub:
Giorgos Karagonis (Fulham; 76)
Slovakia: Martin Skrtel (Liverpool)

Lithuania 2-0 Latvia

Group I

On his full international debut Swansea City striker Michu helped Spain all but guarantee their presence for the defence of their title next year with a 2-1 defeat of Belarus. Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal and the Manchester City pair of David Silva and Alvaro Negredo also played for the hosts, with the latter scoring Spain’s 12 minutes from time, following Xavi’s 61st--minute opener. With a three-point lead over France at the top and a better goal difference of three, only a shock home defeat by Georgia combined with a comfortable victory for France over Finland will deny Vicente del Bosque’s side automatic qualification.

Spain (Negredo) 2-1 Belarus
Nacho Monreal (Arsenal; sub 45), Michu (Swansea; sub 57), David Silva (Man City). Subs: Alvaro Negredo (Man City; 57), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Jesus Navas (Man City).

South America: Colombia through after fightback

Colombia joined Argentina in qualifying from the South American group after they completed a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down to earn the point they needed to reach the finals. Monaco striker Radamel Falcao cemented his national hero status by scoring two late penalties to salvage a point that appeared impossible after a Chile side including Cardiff’s Gary Medel, had raced into the lead through Arturo Vidal’s penalty and an Alexis Sanchez brace. But Carlos Carmona’s second-half dismissal proved the turning point and Teofilo Gutierrez scored to start the memorable fightback.

Colombia 3-3 Chile
Gary Medel (Cardiff)

Chile’s capitulation enabled Ecuador, who were captained by Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, to replace them in third place in the section on goal difference after a 1-0 victory over Uruguay in the altitude of Quito. Jefferson Montero’s first-half goal ended a run of four qualifying matches without a win for Ecuador, and a 15-year winless streak against Uruguay, while dealing a serious blow to the automatic qualification hopes of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, West Brom’s Diego Lugano and Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez, who look likely to have to face a play-off against Jordan.

Ecuador 1-0 Uruguay
Antonio Valencia (Man United)
Uruguay: (Diego Lugano (West Brom), Luis Suarez (Liverpool). Sub: Gaston Ramirez (Southampton; 78)

Elsewhere, Man City's pair of Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero helped Argentina settle the group as winners thanks to a 3-1 success against Peru through Ezequiel Lavezzi’s brace and a Rodrigo Palacio strike. Venezuela’s failure to muster more than the point they earned against Paraguay ended their hopes of a trip to Brazil.

Argentina 3-1 Peru
Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Aguero (Man City). Subs: Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle), Erik Lamela (Spurs; 80)

Venezuela 1-1 Paraguay
Fernando Amorebieta (Fulham)

North and Central America: Mexico hang on

There was high drama in the penultimate round of CONCACAF qualifying as Mexico were spared elimination by a late overhead kick from Raul Jimenez.

With Honduras having beaten Costa Rica earlier in the day Mexico’s encounter with Panama had become a must-win affair for "El Tri", but things took a turn for the worse after Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez’s second-half penalty was saved by Jaime Penedo. When Panamanian substitute Luis Tejada then cancelled out Oribe Peralta’s opening goal with just nine minutes left Mexico’s campaign looked doomed. But before Jimenez launched himself in the air with five minutes to go to send a spectacular scissor-kick past Penedo.

Mexico’s hopes are still hanging by a thread, however, as they need to seal a final-day victory against Costa Rica, while hoping Honduras succumb to a Jamaica side whose 2-0 defeat by United States, for whom Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore was once more on target, sealed their elimination.

Honduras 1-0 Costa Rica
Maynor Figueroa (Hull City), Wilson Palacios (Stoke)
Costa Rica: Bryan Ruiz (Fulham). Sub: Bryan Oviedo (Everton)

United States (Altidore) 2-0 Jamaica
United States:
Tim Howard (Everton), Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Geoff Cameron (Stoke). Sub: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

Mexico 2-1 Panama
Javier Hernandez (Man United)

Friendlies: France hit Aussies for six

France warmed up for their final World Cup fixture with a six-goal thrashing of Australia, while Serbia earned a 2-0 friendly success against Japan. Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud produced two goals within 10 first-half minutes following Franck Ribery’s opener, while Newcastle duo Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy also got on the scoresheet. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema rounded off the rout for Les Bleus.

In Novi Sad, Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic helped Serbia keep Man United’s Shinji Kagawa at bay as they overcame Alberto Zaccheroni’s charges 2-0 thanks to goals by Dusan Tadic and Milos Jojoc.

France (Giroud 2, Cabaye, Debuchy) 6-0 Australia

France: Hugo Lloris (Spurs), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Patrice Evra (Man United), Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Samir Nasri (Man City), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Loic Remy (Newcastle). Subs: Gael Clichy (Man City), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle).
Australia: Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)

Serbia 2-0 Japan
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea). Sub: Aleksandar Kolarov (Man City).
Japan: Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Shinji Kagawa (Man United).

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Key Points

  • Everton's Romelu Lukaku, Spurs' Andros Townsend and Manchester United's Robin van Persie shone in Friday night's FIFA World Cup qualifiers
  • Players from the Barclays Premier League claimed 23 international goals, more than double that of any other top division, the next closest being the German Bundsliga with nine
  • Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Colombia booked their places at next year's Brazil showpiece