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European WCQ Wrap: England rout San Marino, Spain held, France & Germany cruise

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The European leg of the prolonged World Cup 2014 qualifiers was in action once again last night and England were the biggest winners as they thrashed San Marino 8-0. The other European giants to have an easy night in the office were Germany who cruised past Kazakhstan 3-0, Netherlands also beat Estonia by the same margin while France comfortably swatted aside Georgia 3-1. The surprise result of the round came in Gijon where Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by Finland. Portugal and Israel played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in Group F while Wales got the better of Scotland 2-1 in the all-British battle.

England’s rampage against San Marino was welcome relief for Roy Hodgson after the usual pre-match tabloid headache. The Three Lions managed to get six different scorers on the sheet against the minnows, with Jermain Defoe grabbing a brace. England were five goals to the good by half-time, with Alessandro Della Valle getting the ball rolling with an early own goal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Defoe, Ashley Young and Frank Lampard all found a way to goal by the break to leave the home side reeling.

Wayne Rooney extended the lead with a fine free-kick early in the 1st half before Daniel Sturridge joined the party with a late goal, which was then followed by Defoe’s 2nd. The massive victory doesn’t take England to the top of Group H though as Montenegro continue to lead the table by two after their narrow 1-0 triumph over Moldova courtesy of Mirko Vucinic’s winner.

France hold the aces in Group H after a vital round of results which saw Spain draw their 2nd game in four qualifiers. Spain seemed to be cruising along fine against Finland after Sergio Ramos gave the World and European Champions the lead from a corner four minutes into the 2nd half. But the home side didn’t count on Finland hitting them on the break, which they did on 77 minutes when Teemu Pikki turned in Tim Sparv’s cross from the wing.

The French duly took advantage of Spain’s mishap with a comfortable victory over Georgia at home thanks to a clinical spell either side of the break. Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud opened the scoring in first half added time with a header from Mathieu Valbuena’s free-kick. Valbuena then got himself onto the scoresheet two minutes into the 2nd half with a fine individual effort and then setup another goal around the hour mark, with Franc Ribery the recipient this time around as he collected the midfielder’s pass before cutting in to finish from a tight angle. Two points separates France and Spain in Group H and it could all turn around next week when the pair clash in Paris.

Over in Group C, Germany brushed aside Kazakhstan courtesy of first half goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gotze. Thomas Muller added another midway through the 2nd half to keep the Germans atop the table, with their st competitors Sweden and Republic of Ireland sharing the spoils in a 0-0 draw. Germany’s great rivals Netherlands continue to enjoy a healthy lead in Group D after three 2nd half goals against Estonia, with Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Ruben Schaken the scorers for the Oranje.

In Group A, the Premier League dup of Hal-Robson Kanu and Aaron Ramsey gave Wales a moral boosting 2-1 victory over Scotland. But the British duo are still very far behind the top two in the Group, Belgium and Croatia, both of whom notched up 2-0 victories. Portugal are still plagued by struggles in qualifying campaigns as they needed an injury-time leveller from Fabio Coentrao at Tel-Aviv after they allowed Israel to go 3-1 up despite taking the lead after two minutes through Bruno Alves.

Results:

Group A

Scotland 1-2 Wales

Macedonia 0-2 Belgium

Croatia 2-0 Serbia

Group B

Czech Rep 0-3 Denmark

Bulgaria 6-0 Malta

Group C

Sweden 0-0 R. of Ireland

Austria 6-0 Faroe Islands

Kazakhstan 0-3 Germany

Group D

Hungary 2-2 Romania

Netherlands 3-0 Estonia

Andorra 0-2 Turkey

Group E

Norway 0-1 Albania

Slovenia 1-2 Iceland

Group F

Luxembourg 0-0 Azerbaijan

Israel 3-3 Portugal

Group G

Bosnia-H 3-1 Greece

Slovakia 1-1 Lithuania

Liechtenstein 1-1 Latvia

Group H

San Marino 0-8 England

Poland 1-3 Ukraine

Moldova 0-1 Montenegro

Group I

France 3-1 Georgia

Spain 1-1 Finland