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Powers struggle to get results
by Paul Kennedy, September 11th, 2012 11:30PM

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TAGS:  england, world cup 2014

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England beat co-host Ukraine, 1-0, at Euro 2012 but it barely managed to earn a 1-1 with a late Frank Lampard penalty in their World Cup 2014 qualifier on Tuesday at Wembley Stadium.

Ukraine had taken the lead on a goal by Evhen Konoplianka in the 39th minute and it looked like it would hold up, but England was awarded a penalty in the 85th minute on an Evhen Khacheridi handball.

Ukraine was all over England and could have been ahead by several goals in the first 10 minutes. Oleh Gusyev hit the post with a deflection off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Steven Gerrard cleared Ruslan Rotan's effort with goalkeeper Joe Hart beaten. After that, it was almost all England with the exception of Konoplianka's goal.

England coach Roy Hodgson thought his team had played better on Tuesday than they had against Ukraine in Donetsk.

"The first 15 minutes we weren't at our best," he said. "The next 75 minutes we dominated the game. The fact is we played against a very good Ukraine team but I was very pleased with the way the players went about their task. We created chances and struck the post three times. We thoroughly deserved a point."

(Click here for England-Ukraine highlights.)

Europe's other major powers all won but it wasn't easy ...

-- Defending champion Spain needed a goal in the 86th minute from Roberto Soldado to win at Georgia, 1-0, and extend it winning streak in qualifiers to 23 games.

-- Germany, also perfect in Euro 2012 qualifying, earned a 2-1 win over neighbor Austria on goals by Marco Reus and Mesut Ozil in Vienna. "Austria should have equalized in the end," Germany coach Joachim Loew said.

-- Euro 2012 finalist Italy was unimpressive in a 2-0 win at home over lowly Malta. Missing star Mario Balotelli, who had undergone eye surgery, the Azzurri needed a late own goal to put the game away.

Europe Standings:
Group A: Serbia, Belgium, Croatia 4 points; Scotland 2; Macedonia, Wales 1.
Group B: Italy, Bulgaria 4 points; Armenia 3; Czech Republic, Denmark 1; Malta 0.
Group C: Germany 6 points; Sweden, Ireland 3; Austria, Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands 0.
Group D: Romania, Netherlands 6 points; Hungary, Turkey 3; Estonia, Andorra 0.
Group E: Switzerland 6 points; Iceland, Albania, Cyrpus, Norway 3; Slovenia 0.
Group F: Russia, Portugal 6 points; Luxembourg, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Israel 1.
Group G: Bosnia, Greece 6 points; Slovakia 4; Lithuania 1; Latvia,  Liechtenstein 0.
Group H: Montenegro, England, Poland 4 points; Ukraine 1; San Marino, Moldova 0.
Group I: France 6 points; Spain, Georgia 3; Finland, Belarus 0.

FAMILIA COLOMBIANA. The hottest player in the world is Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao, and his form has carried over to the Colombian national team. Falcao scored twice in Colombia's 4-0 win over South American champion Uruguay on Friday, and he scored the winning goal as Colombia rallied from a goal down to beat Chile, 3-1, on the road in Santiago.

Falcao's form has been infectious as teammate Teo Gutierrez scored twice against Uruguay, and the third goal against Chile on a play set up by Falcao.

"We have a good understanding," Gutierrez said of his relationship with Falcao. "This is a very nice family."

None of the home teams won in South America on Tuesday. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Venezeula's 2-0 win at Paraguay that left Paraguay in a tie for last place.

South America Standings:
Argentina 14 points; Colombia, Ecuador 13; Uruguay, Chile 12; Venezuela 11; Peru 7; Bolivia, Paraguay 4.

ASIAN SHOCKERS. Jordan produced the shock result of Asian qualifying with a 2-1 win over Australia on second-half goals by Hassan Abdel-Fattah Mahmoud and Amer Deeb at the King Abdullah Stadium in Amman. Almost as big an upset was Lebanon's 1-0 win over Iran.

The Socceroos qualified for the last two World Cups but already trail Japan by eight points in Group B. The top two teams in each group qualify from the Asian finals while the two third-place teams meet in a playoff to determine who meets the team that finishes fifth in South America.

"The disappointment is enormous," Australia coach Holger Osieck told Fox Sports. "We had a very, very poor first half. We didn't get into the game, our passing was a disaster, we never could get into our normal rhythm. We played a lot of long balls and I don't know why that happened."

Roda Antar's goal gave Lebanon its first win ever over Iran.

Asia Standings:
Group A: South Korea 7 points; Iran, Qatar, Lebanon 4; Uzbekistan 2.
Group B: Japan 10 points; Jordan 4; Australia, Iraq, Oman 2.

BRAZIL WATCH. Three days after the national team was jeered by fans in Sao Paulo following its 1-0 win over South Africa, all is well in again Brazil. An 8-0 win will do that.

Neymar scored a hat trick in the friendly win over China in Recife, a traditional bastion of support for the national team.

"That's the connection we have to have with the fans," right back Daniel Alves said. "We know what we must improve but without them we can't improve. With their help, it's all going to be easier. The Brazil teams belongs to us all and if we have that connection the work with flow."
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1 comment
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: September 12, 2012 at 8:47 a.m.
    Mr. Kennedy, you forgot to mention one world power, the best team in Cpncacaf Mexico, who struggled to take a 1-0 win vs Costa Rica at home. Mexico has qualified with 2 games left to play, as the only Concacad team to do so and as 1st place in its group. Mexico has won every official Concavaf competition starting with all 6 in Gold Cup and 4 qualifiers. That's dominance.


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