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European WCQ Wrap: England, Spain & Germany big winners, Portugal lose to Russia

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The International break is a manager's nightmare across the European leagues, but the round of World Cup qualifiers last night at least provided great entertainment to football fans across the world. The big guns enjoyed a stroll in the park as victories by huge margins were the theme of the night, with England, Spain, Germany and Netherlands all notched up massive wins. England moved atop Group H after their 5-0 thumping of San Marino while Germany hammered Republic of Ireland 6-1 in Group C. The Spanish Armada rolled along with a 4-0 triumph over Belarus, but their Iberian rivals Portugal had an evening to forget as they were shocked 1-0 by Russia. The Dutch secured an important 3-0 win at Andorra to stay ahead of Romania in Group D while in Group A, Scotland were undone 2-1 by rivals Wales in dramatic fashion.

Wayne Rooney responded to being handed the captain's armband by netting a brace at Wembley to help England get back on track after their draw with Ukraine in the previous round. Rooney opened the scoring from the penalty spot ten minutes before the break and his strike was soon followed by Danny Welbeck's goal as the Man United pair came to the fore. The pair again scored in quick succession after the break as England went 4-0 up by the 71st minute, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rounding off the scoring with his 1st senior goal for the Three Lions. England's comfortable combined with Ukraine's draw against Moldova puts them in pole position in Group H, three points ahead of Montenegro who have a game in hand.

Germany maintained their 100% record in Group C as a hapless Ireland outfit were routed in Dublin. Marco Reus was the star of the show as he grabbed a 1st half brace before the floodgates broke open after the break, with Toni Kroos’ double preceded by a penalty from Mesut Ozil and a customary strike from Miroslav Klose. Andrew Keogh scored an injury-time consolation goal for the Irish, who are now 3rd in the group, six points behind Germany at the top.

World and European Champions Spain had the Barcelona boys to thank for their 4-0 triumph at Belarus as Pedro light up the trip with a hat-trick. Jordi Alba opened the scoring 12 minutes in, with Pedro involved in the build-up. The Barca attacker then took it upon himself to collect the three points as his dinked effort doubled Spain’s lead eight minutes later. Two further efforts in the last quarter of the game handed the match ball to Pedro as Spain stay just ahead of France, whom they meet next week, in the Group I standings.

Elsewhere, Alexander Kerzhakov’s 6th minute strike consigned Portugal to their 1st loss in Group F as Fabio Capello’s Russia moved into top spot. Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Czech Republic all crashed in three goals each to keep their qualifying campaign running. FInally, Gareth Bale's heroics helped Wales defeat their Celtic rivals Scotland as the Tottenham winger score a late brace after James Morrison had given Scotland a 1st half lead.

Group A:
Wales 2-1 Scotland
Macedonia 1-2 Croatia
Serbia 0-3 Belgium
Group B:
Bulgaria 1-1 Denmark
Armenia 1-3 Italy
Czech Rep. 3-1 Malta
Group C:
R. of Ireland 1-6 Germany
Faroe Islands 1-2 Sweden
Kazakhstan 0-0 Austria
Group D:
Estonia 0-1 Hungary
Netherlands 3-0 Andorra
Turkey 0-1 Romania
Group E:
Slovenia 2-1 Cyprus
Switzerland 1-1 Norway
Albania 1-2 Iceland
Group F:
Luxembourg 0-6 Israel
Russia 1-0 Portugal
Group G:
Greece 0-0 Bosnia
Slovakia 2-1 Latvia
Liechtenstein 0-2 Lithuania
Group H:
England 5-0 San Marino
Moldova 0-0 Ukraine
Group I:
Belarus 0-4 Spain
Finland 1-1 Georgia