SOFIA, BULGARIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Georgi Milanov #17 of Bulgaria scores past Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier match between Bulgaria and Italy at Vasil Levski National Stadium on September 7, 2012 in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Italy Falter While Germany, Netherlands, England Win

The only major European power to struggle on Friday was Italy. They drew Bulgaria 2-2 in Sofia. All of the other big teams managed to win comfortably.

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Luxembourg Vs. Portugal, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Final Score 1-2 As Portugal Survive Da Mota Scare

Portugal made hard work of beating Luxembourg after they had to come from behind to steal a narrow win.


Netherlands Vs. Turkey, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Final Score, Dutch Win 2-0

The Netherlands didn't do much to ease concerns after their flameout from Euro 2012. They were sloppy, unorganized and opened the door for Turkey several times in Friday's 2014 World CUp qualifier. But despite their sloppy play, they did enough to win 2-0 and took three points from their opener qualifying match at Amsterdam Arena.

Robin van Persie got the Dutch off the mark in the 16th minute when he got free on a corner kick and headed home. To that point, the Netherlands was the better team and deserved the lead, but as soon as they scored they really struggled.

Turkey did well to pressure the Dutch midfield and they starting taking the ball away almost at will. The Netherlands defense wasn't particularly impressive either and one one occasion a miscommunication between Tim Krul and Bruno Martins would have resulted in a disastrous own goal if not for a great last minute clearance off the line by Martins.

For all of the Netherlands' struggles, Turkey couldn't quite make them pay. Arda Turan missed a golden opportunity in the first half and they failed to put shots on goal when the Dutch opened the door for them.

Finally, the Netherlands put things away late. Kevin Strootman hit a lovely long ball for Luciano Narsingh, who chipped the goalkeeper beautifully to seal up an impressive win, but a three points as good as any other for the Dutch.


Moldova Vs. England, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Final Score, England Cruise To 5-0 Victory

England eased to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Moldova, with Frank Lampard bagging a brace.


Bulgaria Vs. Italy, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Final Score 2-2 As Azzurri Start Slow

Generally, a road draw early in qualifying wouldn't be much of a concern for Italy, but considering the nature of their group, it's a tough pill to swallow. The Azzurri were not at their best against Bulgaria, but held a lead for a good chunk of the match. They almost stole three points, but Bulgaria scored a deserved equalizer, and the Italians had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

Stanislav Manolev netted Bulgaria's winner with a great long-range strike in the 30th minute, though Gianluigi Buffon should have done much more to keep it out of the net. The shot took an early hop that threw Buffon off, and he whiffed at the ball before it bounced into the net.

Italy fought back through Pablo Osvaldo, who netted twice in the in the first half to send the Azzurri into the locker room with a lead. He took advantage of poor marking following a set piece with his close-range finish in the 36th minute, then headed in a cross by Emmanuele Giaccherini for his second goal in the 40th minute.

The second half was an even affair, with some chances on both sides. Bulgaria looked lively throughout the half and Italy were forced to depend on Buffon to keep them ahead on multiple occasions. Eventually, after a decent volume of surges forward, the home side found their equalizer in the 66th minute. Georgi Milanov took advantage of some terrible marking by Angelo Ogbonna and scored from close-range on a set piece to tie the score.

Italy had a couple of half-chances in the final minutes, but never looked like taking the lead again. Bulgaria come away with a well-earned point, and possibly renewed confidence that they can compete for a playoff spot. Italy and Bulgaria's loaded Group B also features Denmark, the Czech Republic, and a very decent Armenia side.


Germany Vs. Faroe Islands, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Final Score 3-0, Die Mannschaft Coasts To Win

Germany had no problem defeating the Faroe Islands at home on Friday, as expected, but their fans probably thought they'd see a more dominant performance from Die Mannschaft. They didn't put up the kind of gaudy score that most big sides put up against the Faroe Islands, but perhaps they just didn't feel the need to. The match was essentially over when Mario Götze scored in the first half and Germany coasted to a 3-0 win.

Götze's opener was an absolute stunner. He got a start in the middle with Jogi Löw feeling like a double pivot was unnecessary against such weak opposition, and he made the most of his chance. His 28th minute goal was a stellar individual effort, scored from close range after he beat four defenders with a maze of a dribbling run.

The Germans coasted into the second half and put the game away for good in the 54th minute, when Mesut Özil made it 2-0, assisted by Thomas Müller. Özil added Germany's third goal with a great individual effort and close-range shot in the 71st minute.


Luxembourg Vs. Portugal, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Game Time And TV Schedule

Portugal should beat Luxembourg comfortably on Friday.


Netherlands Vs. Turkey, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Game Time And TV Schedule

Netherlands and Turkey have both made significant changes to their national sides after disappointing for Euro 2012. What can we expect when the teams meet on Friday?


Moldova Vs. England, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Game Time And TV Schedule

The Three Lions face Moldova in their first 2014 World Cup qualifier. Get ready for some English angst!


Germany Vs. Faroe Islands, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Game Time And TV Schedule

Germany will look to push aside the Faroe Island as they begin down the road to World Cup 2014


Finland Vs. France, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Game Time And TV Schedule

France will look to get their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a good start against Finland


Russia Vs. Northern Ireland, 2014 World Cup Qualifying: Game Time And TV Schedule

Fabio Capello and Russia open World Cup Qualifying with a tough, but very winnable test against Northern Ireland.

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