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Saturday, Jan 23rd

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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.

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Arsene Wenger’s defensive reshuffle at Arsenal will take place in earnest in the summer and the Gunners boss wants Swansea’s Ashley Williams to lead his new-look backline, reports the Metro. The Swans captain has been hugely impressive at the back for the Welsh outfit, leading them to their first ever trophy in March when they lifted the Capital One Cup at Wembley.

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup doesn’t want to lose his influential skipper but Williams has made it known to the club that he would be willing to leave the Liberty Stadium should a big club come knocking on his door with an offer.

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Australia has been drawn to face host nation England and reigning Six Nations champions Wales in the pool rounds of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The International Rugby Board announced overnight the four pools of five nations each that will compete for the William Webb Ellis trophy at the eighth staging of the game's showpiece event.

UK commentators have already labelled Pool A the "Group of Death" with Fiji also set to take their place alongside Australia, England and Wales should the Pacific Islanders advance as expected as the leading qualifier from the Oceania region.

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A last-minute try to Qantas Wallabies flyhalf Kurtley Beale has secured a dramatic victory for Australia in an historic last Test for veteran lock and captain Nathan Sharpe in his side's final game of the Spring tour. With less than a minute to play and Wales up 12-9 at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the Qantas Wallabies shifted the ball wide on a counter attack which found replacement flanker Dave Dennis bursting down the sideline before passing to Beale for the winning try in the corner.

The game was charged with emotion from the outset, with the Australians looking to send their captain out with a fitting victory, while Six Nations champions Wales hoped to end a six-game losing streak.

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The 2014 World Cup qualifiers continued to produce fireworks across Europe as the continental giants took the field for the last round of qualifiers for the calendar year. England will still have to turn out later tonight as their clash against Poland in Warsaw was abandoned due to a water-logged pitch caused by heavy rainfall, with the players unable to even conduct their pre-match training routine.

Events at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin more than made up for the dampener at Warsaw as Sweden produced one of the greatest comebacks in recent times as they clawed back from being 4-0 down to draw 4-4 against a shell-shocked Germany. Miroslav Klose’s early brace combined with Per Mertesacker’s goal before half-time gave the home side a commanding 3-0 lead, which was further consolidated by Mesut Ozil’s strike ten minutes into the 2nd half.

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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.

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