Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 7th 2013 Contents A57
Saturday, September 7, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
and Italy moved to the brink of
qualification for the 2014 World
Cup with victories yesterday, while
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a second-
half hat-trick to keep Portugal on
course for the tournament in Brazil.
The Netherlands march to next
summer s finals was slowed by a sur-
prise 2-2 draw with lowly Estonia,
with the Dutch rescued by an injury-
time penalty from Robin van Persie,
and England climbed atop its group
with a 4-0 thrashing of Moldova.
Reigning world champion Spain
seized the initiative in its battle with
France for top spot in Group I by
beating Finland 2-0 away thanks to
goals by Jordi Alba and Alvaro Negre-
do. The French drew 0-0 at Georgia
and is three points back in second
with two matches left.
Germany and Italy could secure
first place in their groups with wins
in the next round of qualifiers on
Tuesday after beating Austria 3-0
and Bulgaria 1-0, respectively.
Miroslav Klose was one of Germany s
scorers in Munich to take the striker
to 68 goals for the national team---
level on the all-time list with Gerd
Mueller---and Alberto Gilardino was
Italy s matchwinner.
Ronaldo scored his three goals in
a 15-minute span---two from down-
ward headers and the third from a
low free kick---to help Portugal come
from 2-1 down to defeat Northern
Ireland 4-2 and stay top of Group F
ahead of Russia.
On a busy night of qualifiers, Bel-
gium extended its lead in Group A
to five points with a 2-0 win at Scot-
land and Bosnia-Herzegovina slipped
up 1-0 at home to Slovakia to allow
Greece---a 1-0 winner at Liechten-
stein---to draw level on points at the
top of Group G. Switzerland con-
ceded three goals in the final 35 min-
utes to draw 4-4 with Iceland but
is still in control of Group E with a
Ukraine claimed the most stunning
win of the night, routing San Marino
9-0 for a record victory to leave the
team just a point behind England in
Group H. Montenegro lost top spot
by drawing 1-1 at Poland and is level
on points with England.
Crowd violence marred Romania s
3-0 win over Hungary in the Nether-
lands group, with five supporters
and two police officers injured in
pre-match skirmishes. Serbia and
Croatia drew 1-1 in another heated
eastern European derby.
With home matches remaining
against the bottom two of Georgia
and Belarus, only a major implosion
would stop the Spanish advancing
in first place to defend its world title
They finally created some breath-
ing space from France as Alba scored
in the 19th minute and Negredo
sealed the win in the 86th when he
lashed home a cross from Manchester
City teammate Jesus Navas.
The French couldn t keep pace,
with Real Madrid striker Karim Ben-
zema extending his international
drought to 15 games in Tbilisi.
France will almost certainly have
to go through the playoffs to reach
the World Cup and they could still
be joined there by Portugal and Eng-
land, who are far from guaranteed
to remain top of their groups.
Ronaldo came to Portugal s rescue
in an ill-tempered match in Belfast
that saw three players sent off,
including Portugal striker Helder
Postiga for headbutting when the
score was 1-1. Jamie Ward put North-
ern Ireland ahead in the 52nd but
the hosts were also reduced to ten
men when Chris Brunt was dis-
missed, giving Ronaldo space to work
He headed home the equaliser
from a corner in the 68th before
scoring twice in seven minutes, taking
his international tally above Portugal
great Eusebio to 43 goals.
Russia beat Luxembourg 4-1 and
is two points behind Portugal having
played a game less.
England s fate is at least in its own
hands after goals by Steven Gerrard,
Rickie Lambert and Danny Welbeck
(2) secured an easy win over Moldova.
The match between Ukraine and
England on Tuesday could determine
which country goes through auto-
matically, with the English also still
having to play Montenegro, too.
Germany should have no such
worries about making it to Brazil.
Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller
joined Klose on the scoresheet as the
Germans stayed five points clear of
Sweden, which rallied to beat Ireland
2-1 away and move into second place
"The goal means an awful lot to
me but I don t want to put myself
on a level with Gerd," said Klose,
who had been stuck on 67 interna-
tional goals for 11 months,
Italy is seven points ahead of Bul-
garia with three games left thanks
to Gilardino s 38th-minute winner
and a victory for the Azzurri over
the Czech Republic in Turin on Tues-
day will book their ticket to Brazil.
The Netherlands lead is now six
points after losing their 100 per cent
qualifying record to Estonia, which
looked like claiming a famous win
after Konstantin Vassiljev had scored
a goal in each half to cancel out Arjen
Robben s second-minute opener.
Van Persie earned and scored the
penalty four minutes into stoppage
time to keep the Dutch undefeated
in 29 World Cup qualifiers. (AP)
Euro powers close in on WCup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, wins the ball from Northern Ireland's
Steven Davis during their World Cup Group F qualifier football match at
Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland, yesterday. Portugal won 4-2.
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