vrijdag 12 oktober 2012

World Cup qualification matches report

Belarus 0 - 4 Spain
Pedro spurs surging Spaniards past Belarus

Pedro spurs surging Spaniards past Belarus

Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez netted a hat-trick as Spain comfortably made it two wins from two in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying with a thumping 4-0 victory over Belarus in Minsk.

Jordi Alba gave the world and European champions a 12th-minute lead as he was allowed to race onto Pedro's back-heel and round goalkeeper Sergei Veremko before slotting home.

Eight minutes later Pedro latched onto a lovely pass from David Silva and chipped over the advancing Veremko, and the Tenerife-born player completed his first international treble with two further goals in the final quarter - first a lob from Xavi's pass following a swift counter-attack and then another neat finish 18 minutes from time.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque had made three changes to the side that started in last month's 1-0 win over Georgia, with Andres Iniesta, Roberto Soldado and the injured Gerard Pique replaced by Santi Cazorla, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas.

However, the changes did little to damage Spain's rhythm as, in contrast to recent matches in which they have taken their time to unlock the opposing defence, the chances came thick and fast for the visitors early on.

Fabregas was first to threaten, getting on the end of a defence-splitting pass by Silva, but his touch around Veremko took him slightly too wide and Stanislav Dragun recovered to deflect his effort onto the post.

Silva should have then opened the scoring when he was picked out by Xavi's ball over the top but the Manchester City playmaker appeared to think he was in an offside position as he lazily buried the ball into the side-netting.

The opener finally came, though, as Alba raced clear to collect a pass from Pedro before coolly converting his second international goal. And, before the 20-minute mark, Del Bosque's men had doubled their advantage. Silva timed his pass perfectly for Pedro's run in behind the Belarussian defence and he took one touch to get the ball out of his feet before delicately chipping over Veremko.

Spain continued to dictate the play without feeling the need to desperately search for more goals after the interval, but more space eventually started to appear in a tired Belarussian defence in the final quarter and Pedro was quick to capitalise.

He raced onto Xavi's through-ball to brilliantly chip Veremko on 68 minutes and then rounded the goalkeeper and rolled the ball into an empty net when he was fed by Fabregas soon after.

There was nearly time for substitute David Villa to mark his return to competitive international football with a goal as he smacked a shot off the bar with nine minutes remaining, but for once Pedro could not put the rebound away as he slotted wide with the goal at his mercy.

The victory moved Spain to the top of Group I alongside France. The two teams go head to head in Madrid on Tuesday.

England 5 - 0 San Marino
Easy night for five-goal England

Easy night for five-goal England

Wayne Rooney proved himself not just a jack of all trades but master of a few as well as he guided England to their expected 5-0 FIFA World Cup™ victory over San Marino at Wembley.

Rooney scored twice in front of a healthy 84,654 crowd, taking him to 31 international goals, one more than Alan Shearer, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney.

Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck also bagged a brace before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain become England's fourth-youngest goalscorer.

The result took England three points clear at the top of Group H and in good heart for Tuesday's crucial trip to Poland, even though Theo Walcott must be rated as extremely doubtful after being forced off inside the opening five minutes.

The visitors had a lucky escape in the opening minutes. Had Aldo Simoncini's airborne challenge on Walcott been executed by anyone other than a goalkeeper, it is difficult to imagine he would have stayed on the pitch - reckless and dangerous, it sent Walcott cartwheeling.

On the touchline, Roy Hodgson was furious. He was still seething when it was confirmed Walcott's evening was over and Aaron Lennon was sent on in his place.

It merely delayed the procession. Rooney had already come close on a couple of occasions when Oxlade-Chamberlain brought an excellent save out of Simoncini from the edge of the area.

Rooney then sent a far-post header from Tom Cleverley's cross narrowly wide before Michael Carrick smashed a shot against the bar, which Welbeck should have turned home but somehow shovelled against a post.

It was difficult to be too critical of England given the limitations of their opponents provided so little space to operate in. But their passing wasn't as crisp as it needed to be in order to open San Marino up and when the opener came, it was something of a surprise as Welbeck charged into the box and was upended by Simoncini.

Oxlade-Chamberlain completes scoring
Rooney had no hesitation in accepting responsibility and duly drove home the spot-kick. Within three minutes, England had another. When Welbeck acrobatically turned home the winner against Sweden during UEFA EURO 2012, some questioned whether he meant it.

The impudent manner in which the 21-year-old turned home Lennon's cross, from a very similar position, left no room for debate. Rooney was denied by a brilliant Simoncini save before the break, then Carrick's shot was deflected away from danger immediately after it.

From the corner, Gary Cahill really should have scored but when Leighton Baines, who had kept his place at the expense of Ashley Cole, picked him out at the far post, the Chelsea man shinned it rather than catch the ball on the volley as he intended.

Cahill then sent a header wide before Baines was inches away from curling home a 25-yard free-kick. Hodgson decided to inject a bit more life into his midfield by introducing Jonjo Shelvey for his debut.

Lennon was about to get a free-kick when Rooney fired home from the edge of the area, a landmark goal which means he has only four more men to overtake and become England's greatest marksman.

Yet again, Welbeck followed up almost instantly. Once more at the near post, this time Cleverley providing the cross which he prodded home from close range.

Hodgson had seen enough to get Rooney off in readiness for Tuesday's more testing assignment with Poland in Warsaw. It meant he was only watching when Oxlade-Chamberlain made his own little bit of history 14 minutes from time, tucking himself behind Tommy Lawton, Michael Owen, and England's youngest goalscorer of all, Rooney.

The Netherlands 3 - 0 Andorra
Dutch put three past Andorra

Dutch put three past Andorra

Netherlands made it three wins from three in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying as they coasted to an expected 3-0 victory over an outclassed Andorra at De Kuip Stadion.

The Oranje were off and running in the seventh minute when Rafael van der Vaart hammered home from long range and, although a possible landslide did not materialise, there were further goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and debutant Ruben Schaken, while Ron Vlaar and Jeremain Lens both hit the woodwork.

While three goals was a modest return for the hosts, who left Robin van Persie on the bench, the visitors never looked likely to make inroads of their own.

Darryl Janmaat was first to try his luck with a 25-yard strike in the fourth minute but Josep Anton Gomez was on hand to make the save. Van der Vaart's powerful strike could not be stopped, though, as the Dutch took an early lead.

Nigel de Jong met Van der Vaart's corner in the tenth minute but could not direct his attempt on goal. After 15 minutes it was 2-0 and a rout looked likely. Lens was the creator, providing the cross that Huntelaar headed past Gomez from 12 yards.

But there was no further scoring before the break. Netherlands had a handful of chances to change that, Huntelaar off target from just six yards and Kevin Strootman shooting wide in the space of two minutes.

Van der Vaart chanced his arm with a spectacular effort from inside his own half three minutes before the whistle but cleared the crossbar. For their part, the Andorrans were reduced to a couple of hopeful shots from 30 yards.

Schaken strikes on debut
The second period started in similar fashion, another chance for the hosts and another miss from De Jong, who had stayed in an advanced position from a corner.

The long-awaited third goal did arrive in the 50th minute, the lively Lens again claiming the assist from the left flank. Schaken marked his first international appearance with the finish, turning home left-footed from a central position.

It seemed unlikely that the next 40 minutes would pass without further addition to the score, but somehow the Dutch did not build on what was by now a certain victory.

Vlaar was close when he headed the ball onto the bar in the 55th minute and Lens was just as close soon after when his slanted shot clipped the post and bounced clear.

Lens left the field in some discomfort to be replaced by Dirk Kuyt with 20 minutes to play, while Ibrahim Afellay and Urby Emanuelson were also given game time in place of Van der Vaart and Strootman.

The chances dried up in the closing stages, a series of corners for the Dutch coming to nothing, but two of the substitutes did combine for one final chance. Afellay won a free-kick when he was fouled by Josep Ayala and Emanuelson stepped up, only to fire his shot wide of the far post.

Ireland 0 - 5 Germany 
Germany hit six past Ireland

Germany hit six past Ireland

Republic of Ireland were overpowered by Germany with Marco Reus firing them into a 2-0 half-time lead before Mesut Ozil, Miroslav Klose and a double from substitute Toni Kroos completed the rout.

There was delighted applause from a capacity crowd when substitute Andy Keogh headed home in injury time, but the consolation was minimal.

Deprived of the services of the retired Shay Given and Damien Duff and the injured Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger, Glenn Whelan, Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane, Trapattoni's understudies simply never got to grips with a technically superior team.

Tuesday's trip to the Faroe Islands, who suffered a narrow home defeat at the hands of Sweden earlier tonight, now represents a key fixture for a man whose honeymoon period is now a distant memory.

It was a measure of the changes wrought on Trapattoni's squad by retirement and injury that the team which ran out against Italy in Poznan in Ireland's final game at UEFA EURO 2012 boasted a total 721 caps; tonight's team had mustered just 268 between them before kick-off, and 136 of those belonged to John O'Shea and Aiden McGeady.

After several days of a will-he-won't-he debate over Trapattoni's indication that he might opt to play three men in central midfield, the Italian did just that. His reasoning was two-fold: an extra body in their might just help his side retain possession better, and one of the trio could attempt to shadow dangerman Ozil.

The game started relatively positively for the Republic when lone striker Jon Walters laid off Keiren Westwood's clearance to Keith Andrews and he dragged his shot from distance wide.But that proved to be a rarity as the Germans eased into their stride and started to dictate the play.

With Ozil and Thomas Muller buzzing around behind frontman Klose and Reus threatening down the left, their movement was simply too much for Ireland, who too often found themselves chasing shadows.

They soaked up the early pressure and in truth, Westwood had little to do, watching Stephen Ward slice a seventh-minute Muller cross over his own bar and Darren O'Dea block Klose's shot on the turn 11 minutes later. But as the pressure mounted, Ireland sank deeper and deeper towards their own goal to leave Walters isolated and invite the visitors on to them.

Reus was booked for diving inside the Ireland penalty area on the half-hour after Simon Cox, Coleman and O'Shea had failed to clear their lines, but he did not have to wait long to erase his disappointment.

With Coleman having drifted out of position, Bastian Schweinsteiger played the ball over the top of both the Everton man and the covering McGeady to full-back Marcel Schmelzer, and he cut inside to set up Reus, whose right-footed shot flew past Westwood and went in off the underside of the crossbar.

Trapattoni's men had hardly had time to swallow their disappointment when their task became almost impossible eight minutes later as Germany once again carved them open.

Full-back Jerome Boateng's crossfield pass arrived perfectly for Reus to smash a left-footed drive across Westwood and into the bottom corner. Any hope of an unlikely fightback died in a disastrous start to the second half which saw Germany cruelly turn the screw.

Cox and Walters had both gone close to reducing the deficit in an early flurry, but order was soon restored when, after O'Dea had crudely felled Klose inside the penalty area, Ozil sent Westwood the wrong way from the spot with 55 minutes gone.

If the Sunderland goalkeeper had been under-employed for much of the first half, he was chronically exposed after the break and conceded for a fourth time within three minutes when Klose ran on to Schweinsteiger's tailor-made pass and rounded him before slotting into an empty net.

The Republic had capitulated in horrific fashion, and did so once again three minutes later when O'Shea's weak clearance fell perfectly for Kroos to help himself with a skidding shot inside the post. Kroos deepened the wounds with seven minutes remaining, drilling home from 22 yards with the Republic in disarray.


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