Wednesday, October 17, 2012
SWEDEN STUNS GERMANY : REVIEW OF EURO WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Sweden did the unimaginable by coming from a four goal down to drawing 4-4 draw against Germany in a dramatic World Cup qualifier in Berlin.
Miroslav Klose moved closer to becoming Germany's all-time top goalscorer with a double early on before Per Mertesacker added a third for the hosts before half time. Once Mesut Ozil made it 4-0 early in the second half, Germany's 14th consecutive win in qualifying competitions seemed to be in the bank, but they had not counted on such a dramatic revival.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mikael Lustig got the comeback under way in the 62nd and 64th minutes before Johan Elmander brought them back to within a goal with 14 minutes left to play.
The stage was then set for Rasmus Elm to grab an equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time to earn Sweden a precious draw and silence the Olympiastadion at the end of one of the most dramatic evenings in the stadium's history.
Olivier Giroud's header deep into stoppage time salvaged a deserved 1-1 draw for France against world champions Spain in Madrid and ended the hosts' run of 24 consecutive qualifying victories.
Sergio Ramos had fired home after his initial effort had come off the post in the 26th minute to give Spain the lead but they were left to rue Cesc Fabregas' missed penalty just before half-time as the visitors took control of the game after the break.
Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko looked to have squandered France's best chances to claim a point as they missed clear openings late on but with the last attack of the game Franck Ribery crossed for Giroud to head low into the far corner.
Northern Ireland were ten minutes away from a famous victory over Portugal but still managed to spoil Cristiano Ronaldo's big day with a battling 1-1 draw in Porto.
The Group F match was supposed to be all about the Real Madrid superstar, who was presented with his 100th cap in a pre-match ceremony involving Luis Figo, but Michael O'Neill's men took a shock lead on the half-hour when Niall McGinn capped a fine counter-attack.
Ronaldo and his illustrious team-mates dominated possession and chances both before and after that but had to wait until the 80th minute for Helder Postiga to turn home a scrappy equaliser.
Italy got the convincing win they needed to silence some of their critics as they beat Denmark 3-1 despite playing virtually the entire second half with ten men.
Two goals in the space of five first-half minutes from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi had them 2-0 up eight minutes before the break, although Denmark got a goal back in first-half injury time through William Kvist Jorgensen.
Then, just 18 seconds into the second half, Italy's Pablo Osvaldo was shown red for violent conduct after an incident involving Denmark's Nicolai Stokholm. However, Cesare Prandelli's team, largely unimpressive in their World Cup qualifying campaign so far, did not let that throw them off their stride as Mario Balotelli - making his first appearance for Italy since Euro 2012 - fired in a third in the 54th minute.
Netherlands assumed control of Group D with a thumping 4-1 win over Romania in their top-of-the-table clash in Bucharest.
Romania had not conceded a goal in their opening three wins, which had them level at the top of the group with the Dutch, but their perfect record was in ruins within the opening 45 minutes.
Jeremain Lens, Bruno Martins Indi and Rafael van der Vaart were all on target before the break to ensure the visitors were on course despite a fine individual effort from Ciprian Marica in reply for the hosts.
Turkey's hopes of World Cup qualification receded even further as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat in Hungary.
The visitors, surprisingly beaten at home by Romania on Friday, made it zero points from a possible six to sit well off the pace in Group D.
The night started well for Turkey as Mevlut Erdinc put them ahead midway through the first half, but Vladimir Koman levelled before the break. Adam Szalai put the hosts in front five minutes after half-time and Zoltan Gera added another from the penalty spot eight minutes later.
Belgium moved to the top of Group A with a 2-0 victory at home to Scotland.
A fine performance from goalkeeper Allan McGregor kept the hosts at bay until the 69th minute, but goals from Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany just a minute apart secured the three points.
Scotland had been desperately seeking an unlikely victory, and the defeat - which leaves them bottom of the group on two points - leaves a question mark over manager Craig Levein's future.
Croatia still trail Belgium on goal difference as they defeated Wales 2-0 in Osijek.
Wales, who have lost three of their opening four fixtures, kept their hosts at bay until the 27th minute, when goalkeeper Lewis Price tried to clear a weak Ashley Williams back-pass but it was charged down by Mario Mandzukic, who tapped home.
Former Arsenal forward Eduardo then made it 2-0 after the break with a close-range finish as Croatia claimed a deserved victory.
Macedonia recorded their first win in World Cup qualifying as they beat Serbia 1-0 courtesy of an Agim Ibraimi penalty after Serbia's Nenad Tomovic was sent off. The result leaves Serbia six points behind Group A pace-setters Belgium and Croatia.
Dejan Damjanovic struck in first-half injury time as Montenegro claimed a magnificent 1-0 win over Ukraine in Kiev.
The result leaves Montenegro on seven points, level at the top of Group H with England, whose game against Poland had to be rescheduled for Wednesday due to adverse weather conditions in Warsaw.
Elsewhere in the group, late goals from Serghei Dadu and Alexandru Epureanu helped Moldova build on last week's goalless draw with Ukraine with a 2-0 win in San Marino.
An 84th-minute penalty by Roman Shirokov was enough for Russia to maintain their 100% record in their campaign as they finally managed to see off a dogged Azerbaijan side 1-0 in Moscow.
Russia had a perfect record after their opening three games in Group F, leaving them three points ahead of second-placed Portugal, and given Azerbaijan came into the match with just one point from two games a home win appeared to be a reasonable prediction.
However, the visitors proved determined opponents and despite almost total domination, Fabio Capello's side had to wait until six minutes from time to make the breakthrough, Shirokov making no mistake from the spot after Ali Gokdemir was deemed to have fouled Vladimir Bystrov.
Israel kept alive their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 3-0 victory over Luxembourg courtesy of first-half goals from Tomer Hemed and Eden Ben Basat, and a second from Hemed early in the second half.
Republic of Ireland claimed a 4-1 victory away to Faroe Islands as Giovanni Trapattoni clung onto his job.
The 73-year-old Italian sent his players into battle in Torshavn amid speculation that his fate had already been decided, but saw them respond as Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters put them into a 2-0 lead.
The hosts responded through substitute Arnbjorn Hansen with a 68th-minute header, but Pol Justinussen's own goal and an 88th-minute Darren O'Dea header dashed any hopes of a comeback.
Also in Group C, Marc Janko scored twice as a completely dominant Austria enjoyed a 4-0 win over Kazakhstan in Vienna.
David Alaba was pivotal throughout, providing the crosses for both Janko's goals before curling home the third, with Martin Harnik slotting the ball into the net in injury-time to complete the win.
Czech Republic and Bulgaria cancelled each other out as they played out a drab goalless draw in their Group B clash in Prague.
Renan Bressan inspired Belarus to a comfortable 2-0 win over Georgia in Minsk as they opened their account in Group I.
Bressan, who scored in BATE Borisov's shock Champions League win over Bayern Munich earlier this month, opened the scoring against Georgia inside six minutes and set up the second goal for Stanislav Dragun.
Estonia won the battle of the bottom two sides in Group D after edging past Andorra 1-0 thanks to a second-half header from Andres Oper.
Bosnia-Herzegovina continued their fine start in Group G with a straightforward 3-0 victory over Lithuania thanks to first-half goals from Vedad Ibisevic, Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic.
Greece moved level with Bosnia-Herzegovina as they won 1-0 away to Slovakia.
Dimitris Salpingidis struck the only goal of a close game in the 63rd minute as Greece climbed above their opponents into second spot.
Latvia grabbed their first points of the campaign with a 2-0 win at home to ten-man Liechtenstein courtesy of goals either side of the break from Vladimir Kamess and substitute Edgars Gauracs.
Switzerland scored twice in the final 25 minutes to extend their lead in Group E with a 2-0 victory
Tranquillo Barnetta broke the deadlock on 65 minutes before Mario Gavranovic clinched a win that moved the Swiss three points clear of the chasing pack after four games.
Norway scored two late goals as they came from behind to beat Cyprus 3-1 and boost their hopes of reaching Brazil.
The visitors trailed to a 42nd-minute goal from Efstathios Aloneftis, but the hosts could not hold out until half-time as Brede Hangeland quickly levelled. Tarik Elyounoussi put the visitors in front ten minutes from time with a penalty and substitute Joshua King made the points safe three minutes later.
Also in Group E, Odise Roshi's 37th-minute goal was enough to earn Albania a 1-0 victory over Slovenia that keeps them in the picture for qualification.
CULLED FROM ESPN SOCCERNET