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The class of Europe shines
September 7th, 2013 1:21AM

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TAGS:  world cup 2014

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[WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: Friday] Belgium, Italy, Germany and Spain all showed they're the class of Europe, but the Netherlands and Switzerland suffered surprising draws. Bosnia-Herzegovina was handed its first loss in qualifying -- at home to Slovakia -- compromising its chances of reaching the World Cup finals for the first time. In South America, a twice-delayed match in Barranquilla ended with Colombia taking a 1-0 over Ecuador that moved itinto a tie for first place with Argentina.

EUROPE:
Group A:

What happened: Star-studded Belgium won, 2-0, at Scotland on goals by Steven Defour and Kevin Mirallas. Croatia could only tie Serbia in Belgrade, dropping five points behind Belgium
Results:
Macedonia 2 Wales 1
Scotland 0 Belgium 2
Serbia 1 Croatia 1
What it means: Belgium is in the driver's seat, needing only a tie at second-place Croatia on Oct. 11 to win the group with a game to play. Serbia, which qualified in 2010, is out.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
22 Belgium 7 1 0 15/2
17 Croatia 5 2 1 11/5
8 Serbia  2 2 4 110/10
7 Macedonia  2 1 4 5/8
6 Wales 2 0 5 7/16
5 Scotland  1 2 5 4/11

Group B
What happened: Alberto Gilardino's first-half goal was all Italy needed to win 1-0 over Bulgaria in Palermo.
Results:
Italy 1 Bulgaria 0
Malta 1 Denmark 2
Czech Republic 1 Armenia 2
What it means: Italy will clinch if it beats Czech Republic in Turin on Tuesday. Mario Balotelli, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Riccardo Montolivo -- all suspended for the Bulgaria game -- will be back.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
17 Italy  5 2 0 13/4
10 Bulgaria  2 4 1 11/5
9 Czech Republic  2 3 2 7/6
9 Armenia  3 0 4 8/9
9 Denmark 2 3 2 8/10
3 Malta  1 0 6 3/16

Group C
What happened: Germany beat Austria, 3-0, for its ninth win in a row over its neighbor. Robbie Keane scored his 60th international goal for Ireland but it suffered a devastating 2-1 loss to Sweden in Dublin.
Results:
Ireland 1 Sweden 2
Germany 3 Austria 0
Kazakhstan 2 Faroe Islands 1
What it means: Germany qualifies Tuesday if it wins at the Faroe Islands, one of three European teams without a point, and Sweden doesn't beat Kazakhstan.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
19 Germany  6 1 0 25/7
14 Sweden  4 2 1 13/8
11 Austria 3 2 2 15/8
11 Ireland 3 2 2 13/12
4 Kazakhstan  1 1 5 4/16
0 Faroe Islands  0 0 7 3/22

Group D
What happened: Robin van Persie's goal in stoppage time earned the Netherlands a 2-2 tie at Estonia to avoid its first defeat in qualifying.
Results:
Estonia 2 Netherlands 2
Turkey 5 Andorra 0
Romania 3 Hungary 0
What it means: The Netherlands-Estonia result means Bob Bradley's Egypt is the only unbeaten and untied team left in qualifying. The Dutch will still qualify on Tuesday if they win at Andorra and Romania doesn't win at Turkey.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
19 Netherlands  6 1 0 22/4
13 Romania  4 1 2 131/0
11 Hungary  3 2 2 13/11
10 Turkey  3 1 3 12/7
7 Estonia 2 1 4 5/11
0 Andorra  0 0 7 0/22

Group E
What happened: Switzerland led Iceland, 4-1, before Iceland came back to earn a 4-4 tie as AZ's Johann Gudmundsson completed a stunning hat trick in stoppage time.
Results:
Norway 2 Cyprus 0
Switzerland 4 Iceland 4
Slovenia 1 Albania 0
What it means: The Swiss can still clinch on Tuesday if they at Norway and Albania and Iceland tie.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
15 Switzerland 4 3 0 12/5
11 Norway  3 2 2 9/7
10 Albania 3 1 3 7/7
10 Iceland 3 1 3 12/13
9 Slovenia 3 0 4 9/10
4 Cyprus 1 1 5 4/11

Group F
What happened: Cristiano Ronaldo's second-half hat trick gave Portugal a 4-2 win at Northern Ireland after it trailed 2-1 and was down to 10 men.
Results:
Russia 4 Luxembourg 1
Northern Ireland 2 Portugal 4
What it means: Portugal stays on top, but second-place Russia has a game in hand and third-place Israel has two games in hand. The Israelis host Azerbaijan on Saturday.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
17 Portugal 5 2 1 16/8
15 Russia 5 0 2 12/3
11 Israel 3 2 1 15/8
6 Northern Ireland 1 3 3 6/11
4 Azerbaijan  0 4 3 3/9
3 Luxembourg  0 3 4 4/17

Group G
What happened: Bosnia-Herzegovina crashed to a 1-0 loss at home to Slovakia -- its first defeat in qualifying.
Results:
Latvia 2 Lithuania 1
Bosnia 0 Slovakia 1
Liechtenstein 0 Greece 1
What it means: Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece are now tied for first place though Bosnia-Herzegovina has a huge edge in goal difference.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina  5 1 1 23/4
16 Greece  5 1 1 8/4
12 Slovakia  3 3 1 8/5
7 Latvia 2 1 4 8/15
5 Lithuania  1 2 4 5/10
2 Liechtenstein  0 2 5 3/17

Group H
What happened: Steven Gerrard and Rickie Lambert scored early and Danny Welbeck added two goals as England cruised past Moldova, 4-0. Dejan Damjanovic put group leader Montenegro ahead ahead 12 minutes, but Robert Lewandowski equalized four minutes later to earn Poland a 1-1 tie.
Results:
Ukraine 9 San Marino 0
England 4 Moldova 0
Poland 1 Montenegro 1
What it means: England pulled even with Montenegro and Ukraine is only one point behind them. Welbeck will be suspended for Tuesday's Ukraine-England game in Kiev.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
15 England 4 3 0 25/3
15 Montenegro 4 3 1 15/8
14 Ukraine 4 2 1 19/4
10 Poland 2 4 1 13/8
5 Moldova 1 2 5 4 15/5
0 San Marino 0 0 7 0/38

Group I
What happened: Spain accomplished in Helsinki what it couldn't do at home, earning a 2-0 win over Finland on goals by Jordi Alba and Alvaro Negredo. France's 0-0 tie at Georgia left it without a goal in five games.
Results:
Finland 0 Spain 2
Georgia 0 France 0
What it means: France's chances of catching Spain are fading, but a point in Tbilisi should help get it through into playoff as one of top eight second-place teams.
Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
14 Spain 4 2 0 10/2
11 France 3 2 1 8/4
6 Finland 1 3 2 4/6
5 Georgia 1 2 3 3/7
4 Belarus 1 1 4 4/10


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