Sun, Oct 14, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Big guns fire in World Cup qualifiers

NO LUCK FOR IRISH:Pedro Rodriguez scored a hat-trick as Spain battered Belarus, while doubles from Marco Reus and Toni Kroos helped Germany demolish Ireland

AFP and Reuters, PARIS and BELGRADE

“If I was describing it as reckless I would be being kind. It was a very fierce challenge,” he said.

Italy took outright possession of Group B after their win in Armenia with Bulgaria held to a 1-1 draw by Denmark.

Fabio Capello’s Russia earned their first ever win over Portugal in the post-Soviet era courtesy of Alexander Kerzhakov’s first half goal in Moscow.

Russia, who agonisingly missed out on the 2010 finals on away goals to Slovenia in the playoffs, took sole possession at the top of Group F, with Portugal now second, three points behind.

The Netherlands top Group D on goal difference after their 3-0 defeat of Andorra. Romania, 1-0 winners in Turkey, are second.

Iceland moved to within one point of Group E leaders Switzerland, held 1-1 by Norway, courtesy of a 2-1 win over Albania, while there is a three-way traffic jam at the top of Group G with Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovakia all on seven points.

Cool finishing by Christian Benteke, Kevin de Bruyne and Kevin Mirallas gave Belgium a valuable 3-0 win in Serbia in an entertaining Group A clash.

The result left the Belgians joint top of the group with seven points from three games along with Croatia, who came from behind to win 2-1 in Macedonia.

Serbia ’keeper Zeljko Brkic was powerless in the 34th minute, when Benteke headed Nacer Chadli’s cross into the roof of the net.

Belgium doubled their lead midway through the second half as de Bruyne broke through the middle and beat Brkic with a low shot.

Everton striker Mirallas came on for de Bruyne in the dying minutes and made an immediate impact, side-footing home a cross from the left in stoppage time

In the same group, Wales grabbed their first points of the campaign following a 2-1 win over Scotland in Cardiff.

Midfielder Gareth Bale scored with a penalty and a scorching drive in the last 10 minutes to earn Wales the win and re-energize his side’s outside hopes of a rare World Cup finals appearance.

Scotland midfielder James Morrison coolly slotted in the opening goal after 27 minutes following early exchanges characterized by some highly robust challenges from the British rivals.

Scotland forward Steven Fletcher had a header ruled out after the break for the visitors before Bale struck when he won and converted a spot kick. The Spurs star then showed he was a class above everyone else when he picked up the ball from a free-kick and sent a 25m rocket into the far corner.

In other games it was:

Group B

Czech Republic 3, Malta 1

Group C

Kazakhstan 0, Austria 0

Group D

Estonia 0, Hungary 1

Group E

Slovenia 2, Cyprus 1

Group F

Luxembourg 0, Israel 6

Group G

Greece 0, Bosnia-Herzegovina 0

Liechtenstein 0, Lithuania 2

Slovakia 2, Latvia 1

Group I

Finland 1, Georgia 1

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