Michael Regan

UEFA World Cup 2014 qualifying: Spain back on top of their group while England stall

A brilliant performance in goal by Victor Valdes helped Spain to a win over France on Tuesday night. In Montenegro, England barely earned a point and appear to be on track for a playoff place.

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UEFA World Cup qualifying: Recap and scores

There were big wins for Spain, Portugal and Croatia, but France, Ireland, Denmark and Turkey all slipped up in the UEFA qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.


Montenegro roar back to earn point against England

England comfortably took the lead in the first half, but Montenegro rallied in the second and in the end were unfortunate to only come away with one point.


Spain back in pole position

Pedro got the defending world champions back to the top of UEFA Group I with a second half goal to beat France.


Dortmund's stars help lead Germany past Kazahkstan

A splendid first half performance was all Germany needed to see off Kazakhstan as Dortmund's three young stars led the way.


Balotelli brace sinks Malta

Although Italy came away from Malta with all three points, the hosts played well enough to acquit themselves, giving their guests a very hard time for much of the game.


Netherlands cruise past Romania

The Netherlands continued their unbeaten qualifying run and took another step towards Brazil with a 4-0 defeat of Romania.


Bulgaria grab big point in Denmark

A playoff place is looking like a bigger possibility for Bulgaria after they snatched a point in Denmark.


Rooney has England in the lead at half-time

England are well on their way to an important win in Podgorica after Wayne Rooney's header put them 1-0 up early in the first half.

The Manchester United striker had shown his danger early on when, with Vladimir Bozovic off his line, Rooney tried a driven lob which caught out the Montenegrin keeper but smacked off the post. Shortly after, England were ahead anyway. Glen Johnson's long-range effort was tipped away for a corner, and Steven Gerrard's delivery found the lively Rooney in the area, who escaped his marker to glance a header in and give England an early lead.

Montenegro were struggling to get into the game, and it was the visitors who looked more likely to get the second goal. Rooney almost combined with his United teammate to produce it midway through the half, but his deep cross was a fraction too high for the onrushing Welbeck, whose movement had been causing problems all afternoon.

England were easily getting down the flanks, although the central defence of the hosts was largely dealing with most of the crosses coming in. Welbeck's half was to end on a sour note however, with the striker booked for diving after appearing to go down under Stefan Savic's challenge in the area as he got on the end of a long ball.

That leaves England in a fine position and nicely set up for the second half, and although Montenegro are far from out of the game, they will need to step things up a level if they want to gain a result.


Montenegro vs. England: Lineups

England have named five Manchester United players in their starting lineup as they take on Montenegro in Podgorica.

Chris Smalling partners Joleon Lescott in defence, while Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick comprise England's midfield two. Danny Welbeck is on the wing while Wayne Rooney leads the line up front. There is also space for Steven Gerrard and James Milner in a conservative-looking England lineup, although there may be concerns over the limited amount of gametime Lescott and Smalling have received this year, with the Montenegrin team identifying it as a potential weakness.

Montenegro are largely as expected, with a fairly tight-looking team behind Mirko Vucinic and Stevan Jovetic, their two star players, up front.

England starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick; James Milner, Steven Gerrard, Danny Welbeck; Wayne Rooney.

Montenegro starting lineup (4-5-1): Mladen Bozovic; Marko Basa, Vladimir Volkov, Miodrag Dzudovic, Stefan Savic, Vladimir Bozovic, Simon Vukcevic, Mitar Novakovic, Elsad Zverotic, Stevan Jovetic, Mirko Vucinic.


Reus and Gundogan get starts for Germany

Germany rebounded nicely from their disappointing draw against Sweden with a 3-0 thumping of Kazakhstan last week. With the venues flipped, the Germans will look to repeat their solid performance and further cement their place at the top of Group C.

Joachim Löw has made a couple changes to his lineup. At the back Jerome Boateng returns in place of Benedikt Howedes. In the midfield, suspended Bastian Schweinsteiger makes way for Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus gets the start as well in place of the injured Julian Draxler. Mario Götze and Mesut Özil remain as starters to lead the German attack.

Germany starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Phillip Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Per Mertesacker, Marcel Schmelzer; Sami Khedira, Ilkay Gundogan; Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, Marco Reus; Mario Gotze.

Kazakhstan starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Andrey Sidelnikov; Aleksandr Kirov, Mukhtar Mukhtarov, Viktor Dmitrenko, Konstantin Engel; Kairat Nurdauletov, Valeri Korobkin; Mark Gorman, Ulan Konysbaev, Heinrich Schmidtgal; Sergey Ostapenko,


Van der Vaart in for Sneijder for the Netherlands

The Netherlands will be looking to preserve their perfect record in qualifier so far and secure their hold on first place in Group D. Louis van Gaal has made a single change from his side's win over Estonia last week with Rafael Van der Vaart replacing the injured Wesley Sneijder in the center of the midfield.

Adrian Mutu has been surprisingly dropped for Romania in favor of Cristian Tanase, while Florin Gardos takes over in the back line for Nicolae Goian. Romania is tied on points with Hungary and will hoping to get a result to keep pace with, or jump past Hungary into the playoff spot.

Netherlands starting lineup (4-3-3): Kenneth Vermeer; Daryl Janmaat, Stefan De Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind; Kevin Strootman, Jonathan De Guzman, Rafael Van der Vaart; Jeremain Lens, Arjen Robben; Robin Van Persie.

Romania starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Costel Pantilimon; Razvan Rat, Gabirel Tamas, Florin Gardos, Vlad Chiriches; Alexandru Bourceanu, Mihai Pintilii; Adrian Popa, Gheorghe Grozav, Bogdan Stancu; Cristian Tanase.


France vs. Spain: Lineups

Interesting times in Paris. Thanks to their hilarious 1-1 draw at home to Finland on Friday, defending world champions Spain find themselves in real trouble in Group I. They're going into a match against France -- no slouches, as they demonstrated by getting a point off these same opponents earlier in the qualifying campaign -- requiring a win in order to control their own destiny in the group. A draw would see the hosts keep their two-point cushion; a Spain loss would result in it ballooning to five. Oh, and Jordi Alba's out for this one.

No pressure, or anything, Spain.

France starting lineup (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris; Patrice Evra, Mamadou Sahko, Raphael Varance, Christophe Jallet; Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi; Franck Ribéry, Karim Benzema, Mathieu Valbeuna.

Spain starting lineup (4-3-3): Victor Valdés; Nacho Monreal, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué, Alvaro Arbeloa; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi; Andres Iniesta, Pedro, David Villa .


Portugal limp to victory

Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal struggled on Tuesday against Azerbaijan. Thankfully for them, the hosts picked up a red card, gifting them a path to victory.


Will a dynasty end in Paris?

Back in October, France shocked Spain with a late equalizer that ended a long string of wins in competitive matches for the world champions. Since then, Les Bleus have improved. Is Spain's dynasty coming to an end?


Ireland host Austria without Robbie Keane

Ireland and Austria both have the opportunity to take over second place from Sweden when they meet in Dublin in the Group C qualifier.


Germany expected to thrash Kazakhstan

Less than a week after they last met, Germany host Kazakhstan on Tuesday night, and are expected to comfortably record victory.


Two dark horses clash in Denmark and Bulgaria

Two sides coming off the back of convincing victories will play out an intriguing encounter to decide who will challenge Italy in Group B.


Netherlands take on challengers Romania

The Netherlands will bid to maintain control of Group D by beating Romania, while the hosts are in a three-way struggle for second place.


England must win in Montenegro to go top

England must beat a tough Montenegro side in Podgorica on Tuesday night if they are to go top of their group.


Italy expected to deliver a Maltese thrashing

Italy won't have any problems in staying at the top of their qualifying group with this trip to minnows Malta.


Croatia look to keep pace against Wales

Wales only have a very slim chance of qualifying for the World Cup, but will be in high spirits after beating Scotland on Tuesday. Croatia, meanwhile, will look to keep up with Belgium in their group.


France and Spain clash in Group I showdown

France put themselves in the driving seat in the group after Spain faltered against Finland, and a good result for Les Bleus against their rivals will leave them heavy favourites to book top spot.


Portugal could face an upset in Azerbaijan

A Portugal side depleted with injuries and suspensions will hope for no more surprises as they bid to end their stuttering form with a win over Azerbaijan.


Serbia and Scotland playing for pride

Serbia and Scotland both have little chance of qualifying for the World Cup, but pride will be at stake as the two teams clash after bitter defeats in their previous games.


Crucial World Cup qualification round in Europe

While all eyes will be on Tuesday's late kick-offs, there are important games spread throughout Europe, with this round an especially crucial one in the battles for second places.

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