Goals galore in Europe's World Cup qualifiers

Mike Hewitt

70 goals in 23 games, Spain drawing against Finland, and Liechtenstein getting a point. Ah, the wonders of UEFA.

Group A

Croatia 2-0 Serbia [report]
Macedonia 0-2 Belgium
Scotland 1-2 Wales [report]

Belgium and Croatia continue to dominate Group A and both teams picked up important 2-0 wins on Friday. Croatia's 2-0 victory over Serbia was the more emotional, but Belgium's, away to Macedonia, was arguably more difficult. Scotland, meanwhile, blew a late 1-0 lead against Wales and remain bottom of the group because they're Scotland.

Group B

Bulgaria 6-0 Malta
Czech Republic 0-3 Denmark [report]

Italy and Armenia both had the day off, which suited Bulgaria just fine. Malta had three straight losses to start off the qualifying campaign and took an absolute pasting in Sofia, losing 6-0 thanks mostly to a hattrick from Aleksandar Tonev. Elsewhere, the Danes hauled themselves back into the qualification picture by beating the Czech Republic 3-0, leapfrogging their hosts to get to third in the standings.

Group C

Kazakhstan 0-3 Germany [report]
Sweden 0-0 Ireland [report]
Austria 6-0 Faroe Islands

Germany and Austria cruised to easy wins against Kazakhstan and the Faroe Islands respectively, but Ireland put up a pretty decent fight against Sweden, emerging from Stokholm with a credible 0-0 draw. After a strong start by the visitors Sweden were pretty clearly the better side, but a valiant rearguard effort saw them claim a point and remain within touching distance of qualification.

Group D

Netherlands 3-0 Estonia [report]
Hungary 2-2 Romania
Andorra 0-2 Turkey

Although the Netherlands didn't look particularly impressive, they got the job done against Estonia. Turkey also beat Andorra because duh. The most interesting action came in Hungary, where Romania kept pace with the current runners up by snatching a last-minute draw through Alexandru Chipciu at Fenric Puskas Stadium. Friday's match was a good chance for Hungary to pull away, and they didn't manage it.

Group E

Slovenia 1-2 Iceland
Norway 0-1 Albania

Interesting times in Group E. With leaders Switzerland inactive until Saturday, a pair of impressive away wins by Iceland and Albania have shaken up the race for second spot. A Gylfi Sigurdsson brace gave Iceland a 2-1 win in Ljubljana and took them to second on goal difference, while Hamdi Salihi's 67th minute goal at Ullevaal Stadion means Albania leapfrog their hosts to go to third place.

Group F

Israel 3-3 Portugal [report]
Luxembourg 0-0 Azerbaijan

Israel and Portugal played out a thrilling 3-3 draw that required Fabio Coentrao to rescue a point for the visitors with a last-gasp strike, ensuring that Israel didn't open up a three-point lead on the Euro 2012 semifinalists in the race for second place. Meanwhile, you probably didn't care about Luxembourg vs. Azerbaijan. Northern Ireland play leaders Russia on Saturday.

Group G

Liechtenstein 1-1 Latvia
Slovakia 1-1 Lithuania
Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 Greece

Bosnia managed to get some separation from second-place Greece thanks to an Eden Dzeko-inspired 3-1 victory in Zenica, but Slovakia failed to take advantage of Greece's slip up, outshooting Lithuania 24-9 but only ending up with a 1-1 draw for their troubles. Liechtenstein, meanwhile, got their first points of the qualifying campaign with a 1-1 home draw against Latvia.

Group H

Moldova 0-1 Montenegro
Poland 1-3 Ukraine
San Marino 0-8 England [report]

Montenegro managed to get three points against Moldova, but they didn't look especially impressive doing it even before they were reduced to ten men. Eventually, however, a Mirko Vucinic goal late in the second half ensured that the group leaders didn't have to suffer any serious embarrassment. Ukraine managed a surprising away victory against Poland in a game that's unlikely to end up mattering much, and England are mean.

Group I

Spain 1-1 Finland [report]
France 3-1 Georgia [report]

Spain's shocking home draw against Finland means that the defending world and European champions are in interesting shape for the qualifying rounds. They're now two points behind France, who saw off Georgia thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Valbeuna and Franck Ribery, and they have to travel to Paris -- and win -- next week if they're going to finish atop Group I. Interesting times.

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