CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 29: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal gets to his feet during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Spain and Portugal at Green Point Stadium on June 29, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Euro 2012 Qualifying: Belgium-Turkey, Portugal-Norway, And More

Euro 2012 qualifying takes its turn towards the stretch and while the schedule of matches this weekend isn't the best, there are several tantalizing match-ups.

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Euro 2012 Qualfying: Competition-Wide Final Scores

Despite the wide slate of games that was played on Friday evening, the general picture of Euro 2012 qualifying remains unchanged, as most of the games either played out as expected or failed to produce winners. Most of the big names did what was expected of them, with one notable exception. France drew Belarus in fairly embarrassing fashion, but their position at the top of Group D is not in jeopardy, thanks to shaky starts to the competition by Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania.

Germany and Austria played possibly the best game of the evening as Mario Gomez scored a brace in a 2-1 win, including a dramatic 87th minute winner. Belgium and Turkey drew, keeping the Group A picture unresolved, while Sweden and Croatia predictably strengthened their positions.

Final Scores

Kazakhstan 2-1 Azerbaijan

Austria 1-2 Germany

Belgium 1-1 Turkey

Faroe Islands 0-2 Slovenia

Italy 3-0 Estonia

Romania 3-0 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Belarus 1-1 France

Moldova 1-4 Sweden

San Marino 0-1 Finland

Croatia 2-1 Georgia

Lichtenstein 2-0 Lithuania


Austria Vs. Germany, Euro 2012 Qualifiers: Mario Gomez Rescues Germany With Late Winner

It was the Mario Gomez show in Ernst Happel Stadion as the Bayern Munich striker rescued three points for Germany against Austria. It didn't look particularly good for the visitors for most of the match, having earned a first half lead through Gomez only to be pegged back to level terms by an own goal four minutes into the second half, in which state the game would remain for forty-five agonising minutes.

Winning the match took a brilliant header from the prolific Gomes, who scored an astonishing 42 goals in all competitions last season, and it didn't come a moment too soon for the Germans, who would have seen their perfect start to the campaign erased by a draw in Austria. The match wasn't as one-sided as Germany would have liked against a team four places below them in Group A - possession was fairly even and Germany only outshot their hosts nine goals to eight, but in the end they got their three points thanks to having a deadly striker on hand.

It's just another chapter in Gomes' phenomenal year. After being castigated for a miserable 2009/10 season, the striker has shown up his critics by averaging more than a goal every ninety minutes, and he's shown no signs of slowing down in the summer.


Belgium Vs. Turkey, Euro 2012 Qualifying: 1-1 Full Time

Belgium started their Euro 2012 qualifying match against Turkey in impressive fashion, scoring an early goal to go up 1-0. They absolutely controlled the first 20 minutes of the game, but Turkey were able to find a first half equalizer, very much against the run of play. Belgium continued to control the game until the halftime whistle blew, but they couldn't find another goal.

The second half was much less eventful than the first, as the teams more or less limped to a 1-1 draw in fairly unimpressive fashion. The second half was as surprising as it was disappointing when you consider how much each team had to gain by winning the match. After the draw, Belgium sits in second place in Group A, one point ahead of Turkey.

Belgium absolutely should have won the game, but star midfielder Axel Witsel from Standard Liege had an absolutely horrid miss when it was much easier to score, eventually causing Turkey to be gifted a share of the points.

Turkey's play to close the game was incredibly tight and cautious, which was disappointing from a team coached by a great attack-minded manager like Guus Hiddink. The English language press have linked him to the vacant Chelsea job, while the Turkish press have speculated that Hiddink could be fired if he failed to win this game, so don't be shocked to see Hiddink and Turkey part ways by mutual consent in the very near future.


Belgium Vs. Turkey, 2012 Euro Qualifying: 1-1 Halftime

Belgium have had much more of the possession and the much better in the play of the first half of their Euro 2012 qualifying match against Turkey, and they took a deserved early lead as a result, but they're locked in a 1-1 draw at halftime after Turkey found a great equalizer against the run of play. A draw would keep Belgium in second place in Group A, which would mean they control their own destiny as far as qualifying for a playoff to get into Euro 2012, but a win would put them in position that would be crippling to Austria and Turkey.

The opening goal was scored by Marvin Ogunjimi just four minutes into the game, scoring on a rebound after an assist from Nacer Chadli. The Belgians continued to press forward afterwards, but they were hit back on the counter by Turkey, as Arda Turan provided a nice setup for a Burak Yilmaz finish, leveling the game at 1-1.


Belgium Vs. Turkey, Euro 2012 Qualifying: Belgians Jump Out To Early Lead

Turkey entered Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier knowing that a win over Belgium would put them in the driver's seat for second place in Group A. Trailing the Belgians by only a point and with a match in hand, the Turks needed a win to get a modicum of comfort and were expected to come out playing with fire. Instead, they came out looking disorganized, disinterested and downright laughable at the back. Belgium was all too happy to take advantage of it too, getting a goal just four minutes in to go on top, 1-0.

With the Turks running around aimlessly at the back, the Belgians pounced. Early pressure turned into a goal when Marvin Ogunjimi got a second attempt at goal and found the back of the net. Now the Turks have to play from behind against a very good Belgium back line.

There are rumors that if Turkey lose, head coach Guus Hiddink will resign and make his way over to London to take over at Chelsea. Down 1-0 just four minutes in, that resignation is creeping ever closer.


Romelu Lukaku Out For Belgium Euro 2012 Qualifier

Belgium, whose Euro 2012 qualification chances may hinge on the their match this weekend against Turkey, will have to do it without Romelu Lukaku. Their 18-year-old star, who is being chased by Chelsea and other of the world's top clubs, suffered an injury and will not be available for this weekend's match.

"I have bad news," Lukaku wrote on his Facebook account. "I have suffered an injury to a bone in my foot. It needs further investigation, but I will keep you informed. I am obviously very disappointed [to miss the game] but am sure we will win. I will do everything I can to recover quickly."

The extent of the injury is still unclear, although with the club season over and this being Belgium's last qualifier until September, it would take a very serious injury for it to keep him from missing any more matches. If it is serious though, it could threaten any potential transfer.

Belgium sits one point ahead of Turkey for second place in Group A for Euro qualifying. Turkey does have a match in hand so Belgium it is imperative that they win weekend's match in Brussels.


Euro 2012 Qualifying: Belgium-Turkey, Portugal-Norway, And More

Qualifying for Euro 2012 is just about ready to start winding down as teams move into the second half of the qualifying campaign beginning this weekend. Unfortunately, what should be a great weekend of football and a good bye to European football as we head into the summer isn't so great. The fixture list is filled with duds as the top teams take on the European minnows, so most of the matches aren't even worth reading the match reports.

That said, there are a few matches worth checking out, with most coming in the battle for second place in the group. Nobody wants to be the runners up, but when it comes to Euro qualifying, it matters. The top second place teams will qualify for play-offs against each other for the final spots in next summer's tournament, making second place an important spot in the group. So while a few teams will essentially wrap up first place in the group this weekend, the battles for second place only heat up.

Belgium vs. Turkey- Friday, 2:45 pm ET

This Group A battle could very well decide which team finishes second in the group and earns a spot in a play-off to make Euro 2012. Belgium currently leads Turkey by one point for second place, but they have played one more match than the Turks. 

While Turkey may gave been more successful recently, Belgium has a slew of exciting young talent and an underrated group of established professionals. Vincent Kompany was one of the English Premier League's best defenders and if Thomas Vermaelen is healthy, he would form a fantastic pairing in the center of the defense. Add in Daniel Van Buyten and Belgium are plenty solid at the back. Up top are two of the best young forwards in the world, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, while Axel Witsel gives them a bright young midfielder.

Even if Belgium is the country producing great young talent, Turkey is the team with plenty of talent, period. They were surprise semifinalists at Euro 2008 and have Arda Turan, Hamit Altintop and Semih Senturk in their ranks so there is quality in the team. If they can get three points against Belgium, they will be in a good position to finish in second place considering they would be up on Belgium with a match in hand and they get Germany at home, while the Belgians have to play them in Dusseldorf. 

Portugal vs. Norway- Saturday, 4:00 pm ET

For several years now there has been this idea floating around that Portugal is an elite team in the world. The question is, why? Sure, they made it to the knockout stages of the World Cup last year, but that is a tournament they struggled to qualify for. Right now, they are also struggling to qualify for Euro 2012. They're sitting on seven points, three behind Norway so if they lose on Saturday they can essentially kiss their chances of winning Group H goodbye.

If they lose on Saturday, Portugal will also have an uphill climb just to make it into second place and a play-off. They will likely find themselves three points behind Denmark, who they have to play in Copenhagen later in qualifying. In short, Portugal is not elite. That doesn't mean they don't have some elite players. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, they have two deadly attacking players, Raul Meireles gives them a top midfielder and there are enough good defenders to be very good. Thanks to strange tactics and a lack of cohesion, Portugal don't play very well though and are in danger of missing out on next summer's Euros.

For Norway, it's all about the back line and defense. They've given up just three goals in four matches of qualifying so far thanks to Brede Hangeland and John Arne Riise in the back. The pairing makes them extremely difficult to play against and they've rode that pairing to the top of the group table. A win against Portugal and they will just about seal up a spot in Euro, a massive accomplishment for a team that hasn't qualified for a major tournament since Euro 2000. 


It's a poor weekend for matches so there isn't a ton more to talk about. Germany can get very close to qualification with an expected win over Austria and France can do the same by dispatching Belarus. If France takes care of business and defeats Belarus, the winner of the Bosnia and Herzegovina and Romania match will have the door open to slide into second place of Group D. In Group G, a Montenegro win over Bulgaria can put the pressure on England to get a win and cement their spot in the top two.

England play Switzerland in a key Group G match, one that will have its own detailed preview here at SB Nation.

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