woensdag 17 oktober 2012

Brasil 2014 Qualification Matches Report

Spain 1 - 1 France


Spain's hopes of a 25th consecutive win in qualifying were dashed after a last minute goal saw France record a 1-1 draw in an entertaining World Cup qualifying Group I clash at the Vicente Calderon.

The opener came in the 25th minute through Sergio Ramos, who needed two attempts to divert the ball into the net after earlier hitting the bar. Despite French pressure, Cesc Fabregas would see a penalty saved by Hugo Lloris, with France denied an equaliser due to an offside flag.

The visitors stepped up the pressure in the second-half, but despite numerous opportunities, it was not until the 93rd minute in which substitute Olivier Giroud netted to secure a dramatic equaliser.

The world champions started the more adventurous of the two sides, with Jordi Alba causing havoc on the left-wing. France began cautiously having opted for an inexperienced midfield, with Maxime Gonalons handed only his fifth cap ahead of Etienne Capoue.

Nevertheless, it was Vicente del Bosque's men who suffered the first blow. David Silva only lasted 12 minutes before being substituted in favour of Arsenal's Santi Cazorla, with the Manchester City star hobbling down the tunnel.

Didier Deschamps' men quickly slipped into the lull which marked their Euro 2012 exit at the hands of La Roja, and it seemed that history would repeat itself as Andres Iniesta galloped down the flank before a brilliant interjection by the returning Laurent Koscielny inside the box.

It was not long until the hosts took the lead, amidst poor defending from Les Bleus. Xavi's corner was met by Sergio Ramos, who headed against the bar. Pedro's cross back into the danger-zone was parried by Hugo Lloris, before the Real Madrid defender converted to give his side the lead on 25 minutes.

The visitors were in the ascendancy soon after conceding, and almost issued a response nine minutes later. Franck Ribery's simple pass found Karim Benzema in the box, with the striker forcing club team-mate Iker Casillas into a fine low save as Deschamps' side rallied.

Franc saw a goal ruled out five minutes before the break. A brilliant delivery from Yohan Cabaye found Benzema at the far post, with the 24-year-old heading past Casillas, only for the German linesman to rule it out for offside, though replays would suggest otherwise.

Defensive instability came back to haunt the visitors, as Koscielny clattered into Pedro, with referee Felix Brych not hesitating to award a penalty. Up stepped Cesc Fabregas, whose powerful effort was superbly beating away by Lloris. The Tottenham custodian then produced a fantastic double save to deny the former Arsenal man and Pedro just before the interval, as La Roja failed to extend their advantage.

The hosts started the second-half with similar injury concerns after Alvaro Arbeloa was forced off after a challenge by Ribery, with Atletico Madrid's Juanfran replacing the right-back. Though France did improve, creating more frequent attacking forays, they appeared to struggle against the speed of the hosts' passing game.

Ribery was once again in the thick of things, as his fizzing shot from the edge of the box whistled narrowly past Casillas' post, before a tame header was comfortably saved by the keeper.

The visitors were far more enterprising midway through the second period, and were unlucky not to have equalised when Benzema's movement on the left provided a low cross in towards Jeremy Menez, with the Paris Saint-Germain winger unable to connect well with what would have been a tap-in.

The lively Benzema got in behind the Spanish rearguard again after latching on to a fine pass from the midfield, before his cross into Moussa Sissoko at the far post was wastefully fired over by the Toulouse midfielder.

But in the 93rd minute and what was the last move of the game, a speculative cross from Ribery was turned in by substitute Giroud to send the stadium into silence and level the clash.

Spain and France remain locked on seven points ahead of the return in Paris in the New Year. The champions travel to Panama for a friendly in November, with Deschamps' side tackling Italy when qualification resumes in March 2013.

Source: goal.com


Romania 1- 4 Netherlands
Netherlands maintain winning record


The Netherlands assumed control of their FIFA World Cup™ qualification group with a thumping 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 Group D 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. Robin van Persie, who was preferred to start ahead of Klaas Jan Huntelaar, completed the rout four minutes from the end.

Netherlands had arrived in the Romanian capital wary of their opponents after their impressive win in Turkey last week ensured they kept pace with the Dutch at the top of the standings. But any fears they held were quickly allayed as they raced into a 2-0 lead before the half-hour.

Lens grabbed a stunning opener after ten minutes when he headed in from 20 yards. Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu had seemingly cleared the danger with a punch that cleared the area, but Lens powerfully headed the ball straight back and over a home defender stationed on the line.

The visitors' advantage was doubled on 28 minutes when Van der Vaart's superb free-kick was turned in by Martins Indi at the back post. Martins Indi's task was made easier as the home defence failed to follow his run that was superbly picked out by Van der Vaart's delivery that fizzed across the top of the six-yard box.

Romania were in need of some inspiration to claw back the early damage and in Marica they found it on 40 minutes. The striker was surrounded as he began his run just outside the area but after fending off the attention of Johnny Heitinga he wriggled into space before sliding a perfectly-placed shot past Maarten Stekelenburg.

Comeback quelled
The lifeline lasted just seven minutes, however, as the hosts gave away an injury-time penalty. Gabriel Tamas brought down Luciano Narsingh in the area and Van der Vaart tucked away the ensuing penalty despite Tatarusanu guessing the right way.

Romania never recovered from conceding the goal so late in the half and could have been four down soon after the re-start but Tatarusanu tipped away Van Persie's header. The Dutchmen cruised through the majority of the second period with a pair of unnecessary cautions for Lens and De Jong causing any reason for discomfort.

They mattered little, however, as Van Persie put the seal on a win that could prove vital. The Manchester United striker, who started from the bench in last week's win over Andorra, had the simple task to force the ball in after Narsingh beat the offside trap on the right and fired a low cross into his path.

Source: fifa.com

Germany 4 - 4 Sweden


Germany threw away a four-goal lead as a late Sweden comeback saw them surrender all three points in a 4-4 World Cup qualifying draw with Sweden at the Olympiastadion

Miroslav Klose got the hosts off to a brilliant start as he netted two early goals, putting him one strike away from equalling Gerd Muller's record of 68 goals for the national team. Per Mertesacker added another before the break and soon after the restart Mesut Ozil gave Joachim Low's side a comfortable lead.

The Swedes responded impressively in the second-half and staged a magnificent comeback, with Erik Hamren's half-time substitutions having a great effect as they had a hand in all the goals. Strikes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mikael Lustig and Johan Elmander set up a tense finish and the visitors completed an astounding recovery in stoppage time through Rasmus Elm.

But the first-half could not have contrasted more starkly as, following their 6-1 thumping of the Republic of Ireland, Germany got straight into their stride. Less than two minutes had been played when Andreas Isaksson stopped Thomas Muller and the follow-up effort crashed off the post.

The Blagult had no such luck on the next German attack as die Mannschaft took the lead in the eighth minute. Philipp Lahm played Marco Reus in at the byeline and his cutback was smashed into the top corner by Klose to finish a brilliant move.

Things only got better for the hosts as Klose added his second in the 15th minute following some intricate one-touch play. Reus initiated the move, slaloming his way into the box with two successive one-twos, before pulling the ball back to the 34-year-old who fired home at the second time of asking.

After stepping off the gas midway through the half Low's men soon reasserted themselves and following Isaksson's save to keep Reus out, they got their third in the 39th minute. A cross from the left was kept in play at the back post by Muller, whose looped header was rifled past the keeper by an unmarked Mertesacker. 

Germany did not let up after the break and after Muller was once again denied by Isaksson, a four-goal cushion was achieved in the 56th minute. At the end of a swift break, Muller delivered a cross that found Ozil at the back post. The Real Madrid man controlled the ball on his chest before angling a shot into the far corner.

The match appeared dead and buried, but Sweden pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute as Ibrahimovic beat the offside trap to steer a header past Manuel Neuer from Kim Kallstrom's ball forward.

Seemingly galvanised by that goal, another ball over the top, again courtesy of Kallstrom, created another chance for the visitors. Lustig controlled it well and with his second touch powered a shot at Neuer that somehow squirmed into the goal.

Extraordinarily, the Swedes came to within one goal of the hosts, stunning the Berlin crowd in the process. In space on the left, Alexander Kacanikilic picked out Elmander who beat Holger Badstuber to the ball and poked it in at the far post.

Tobias Sana blazed over in front of an open goal in the 85th minute but unperturbed, Sweden found the equaliser at the death. A cross from the left was not dealt with by Mertesacker and his loose header fell to Elm who volleyed in to complete the fightback.

The result means Germany have surrendered their 100 per cent record in Group C but remain three points clear of second-placed Sweden.

Source: goal.com



Italy 3-1 Denmark
Balotelli seals win for 10-man Azzurri
Cesare Prandelli's men took a significant step on the road to Rio courtesy of goals from Riccardo Montolivo, Daniele De Rossi and their enigmatic Manchester City striker

Mario Balotelli - Italy-Denmark - WCQ 2014

Italy strengthened their grip on top spot of Group B by making light of the dismissal of Pablo Osvaldo to defeat Denmark 3-1 at San Siro on Tuesday night.

Having withstood intense early pressure, the Azzurri stunned the visitors with two goals in the space of four minutes through Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi, to put themselves in a commanding position with half-time looming. 

However, William Kvist halved the home side's advantage with a volley before Osvaldo gave the Danes further reason for optimism by getting himself dismissed early in the second-half.

Mario Balotelli came to the Azzurri's aid, though, converting a terrific pass from the equally influential Andrea Pirlo to clinch a win that saw the Euro 2012 runners-up make it 10 points from a possible 12 so far in Group B.

Cesare Prandelli made four changes to the defence that had started in Armenia, which could perhaps explain why the hosts looked so shaky at the back inside the opening quarter. However, it was more down to the fact that the Danish midfield overran their Azzurri counterparts early on, allowing them to fully exploit Andrea Barzagli’s total inability to deal with Nicklas Bendtner in the air.

Indeed, the on-loan Juventus man really should have done better after being picked out by the marauding Lars Jacobsen inside the opening three minutes. Christian Eriksen then stung the palms of Morgan De Sanctis with a terrific drive from distance as the visitors continued to dominate. But, Italy gradually began to gain a foothold in the game and were desperately unfortunate not to open the scoring 18 minutes in, when Claudio Marchisio unleashed a sublime curling effort from the edge of the area that seemed destined for the top corner until Simon Kjaer popped up to block on the line.

Moments later, though, De Sanctis came to the Azzurri’s rescue again, somehow managing to keep out a low drive from Kvist with his knees. It was a highly unorthodox but undeniably crucial intervention from the Napoli goalkeeper, because Italy broke the deadlock with their next attack. Montolivo arrowed a ball into the bottom corner of the Danish net after latching onto a sublime lay-off from Balotelli.

Denmark were still coming to terms with that setback when Italy struck again, with Pirlo outfoxing Michael Silberbaeur on the right-hand side before crossing for De Rossi to head home. 

The visitors were well and truly reeling, but they deservedly dragged themselves back into contention right on the stroke of half-time when the impressive Kvist guided a side-footed volley, from a deflected Jacobsen cross, past De Sanctis.

The Danes then sensed a famous win on Italian soil when Osvaldo stupidly got himself sent off for lashing out at Nicolai Stokholm less than 40 seconds after the interval. However, the loss of a man actually seemed to galvanise the Azzurri, and Balotelli in particular.

Indeed, the enigmatic forward played the lone forward role to great effect and got his just rewards for doing so when Pirlo picked out his well-timed run in behind the Denmark defence with a typically measured pass, allowing Balotelli to deftly flick the ball past Stephan Andersen.

There was no way back for Denmark thereafter, meaning their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup are now hanging by a thread, with just two points to their name after three games played. Italy, by contrast, are already well on the way to Rio.

Source: goal.com

Portugal 1-1 Northern Ireland
Postiga saves hosts but World Cup hopes dealt damaging blow
The Zaragoza striker struck to spare Paulo Bento's blushes after a battling display from the Green and White Army looked to have earned a shock victory

Ronaldo Northern Ireland

Helder Postiga's late equaliser bailed out a below-par Portugal side after Niall McGinn had given Northern Ireland a shock lead at the Estadio do Dragao on the night Cristiano Ronaldo won his 100th Seleccao cap.

Michael O'Neill's side travelled to Porto with eight players out injured and Gareth McAuley suspended, but took the lead after half an hour through McGinn as Portugal were caught napping at the back.

The home side rallied and spent the rest of the encounter attacking, but never looked too likely to score as Ronaldo floundered and their defence looked increasingly shaky.

They did start well, however, and Miguel Lopes, who replaced Fabio Coentrao in the starting line-up, flashed a shot just wide of the far post after two minutes, while Ronaldo dragged one wide of the other upright four minutes later.

The visitors forced three corners in the first 15 minutes as the home defence endured a shaky opening, but O'Neill's men could not make the most of their opportunities. 

But they came back through Oliver Norwood, who sent a 25-yard free kick down the throat of Seleccao goalkeeper Rui Patricio, while at the other end Roy Carroll tipped Nani's dipping header over the crossbar.

Northern Ireland had been adventurous all night - especially considering their understrength line-up - and their positive outlook paid off when Jonny Evans won the ball in his own half, burst forward and picked out Kyle Lafferty. The Sion forward advanced on the home defence before picking out McGinn, who was completely free on the left after outpacing Joao Pereira, to take a touch and fire over Patricio to record his first competitive goal for the Green and White Army.

But the visitors had to ride their luck in the aftermath of the goal, with Aaron Hughes almost heading into his own net before Craig Cathcart crashed Pereira's cross past Roy Carroll, only to see the ball come back off the crossbar. 

Portugal poured forward and Pereira's shoot drifted wide of the far post, but the visitors continued to look solid at the back, which is more than could be said for Paulo Bento's men.

Ronaldo had a 30-yard effort blocked by the imperious Jonny Evans, but went closer after 58 minutes when his half-volley from around the penalty spot was saved smartly by Carroll. 

Carroll did well to keep out a long-range effort from half-time substitute Ruben Amorim, and moments later Steven Davis almost sliced Pepe's weak cross over his own goalkeeper.

Ronaldo went close again with 20 minutes on the clock, but Hughes was on hand to get in a timely block as the Real Madrid forward set his sights on the elusive equaliser.

Postiga fired a shot straight down the throat of Carroll on 76 minutes, before stretching the keeper again three minutes later. 

But the Zaragoza striker went one better seconds afterwards when the ball fell to him inside the six-yard box. After Nani failed to make proper contact with Bruno Alves' header, Postiga brought it down, swivelled and stroked in the equaliser to the sheer delight of the home fans.

Bento's men came forward again and Silvestre Varela lashed a shot into the side netting, before Nani's dipping effort flew inches over the crossbar.

With five minutes of stoppages added on, Eder thought he had won it only for Jonny Evans to get across and divert the danger at the last minute.

That was to be the last chance of note for either side, and although the visitors will be disappointed to have conceded a late equaliser, they should be proud of their organised, determined display.

It has been a disastrous couple of games for Portugal, however. Following defeat against Russia on Friday, they have taken just one point from two games and they now have a big job on their hands to make it to Brazil 2014.

Source: goal.com

Other results:

Russia 1 - 0 Azerbaijan
Belarus 2 - 0 Georgia
Israel 3 - 0 Luxembourg
Andorra 0 - 1 Estonia 
Latvia 2 - 0 Liechtenstein
Bosnia & Herz. 1 - 4 Lithuania
Faroe Islands 1 - 4 Ireland
Cyprus 1 - 3 Norway
Ukraine 0 - Montenegro
Croatia 2 - 0 Wales
Czech Republic 0 - 0 Bulgaria
Hungary 3 - 1 Turkey
Slovakia 0 - 1 Greece
Iceland 0 - 2 Switzerland
San Marino 0 - 2 Moldova
FYR Macedonia 1 - 0 Serbia
Austria 4 - 0 Kazakhstan
Albania 1 - 0 Slovenia
Belgium 2 - 0 Scotland






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