World Cup European qualifiers round-up: Welsh woe in Serbia
The second round of European qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup brought not many surprises and a night to forget for the home nations.
England’s disappointing home draw with Ukraine was at least slightly better than Wales who were thrashed in Belgrade by Serbia.
Chris Coleman labelled the performance as ‘criminal’ afterwards, as he could only watch on in horror.
The Welsh lost 6-1 with Premier League defenders Aleksandar Kolarov and Branislav Ivanovic among the scorers for the hosts.
A brilliant Gareth Bale free-kick was scant consolation on a night of Welsh woe.
Scotland booed off
Scotland didn’t do much better in Group A either, as they were booed off again by their home supporters after a 1-1 draw with Macedonia.
Kenny Miller saved the Scots blushes with an equaliser at Hampden Park just before half-time.
The other Group A match saw a 1-1 draw between Belgium and Croatia.
In Group F, Northern Ireland were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw themselves by improving European minnows Luxembourg.
Michael O’Neill’s side has the lion share of possession and the best chances but couldn’t add to Dean Shiels 14th minute opener.
They were made to pay by the visitors who struck with four minutes left. Daniel de Mota’s strike took a wicked deflection to earn Luxembourg an unlikely point.
Two from two for Russia and Portugal
Group favourites Russia and Portugal made it two wins from two each.
The Portuguese saw off a brave Azerbaijan challenge to win 3-0 at home while Fabio Capello’s Russians recorded an impressive 4-0 away win in Israel.
The Republic of Ireland were not in qualification action but did record a morale-boosting 4-1 friendly win over Oman.
West Brom striker Shane Long and Kevin Doyle of Wolves were among the scorers for the Irish.
In their group, Germany came out on top in the battle with Austria.
Marco Reus and a Mesut Ozil penalty saw them hang on for a 2-1 victory in Group C. Ozil is in great form, having scored three times in two games.
Rasmus Elm and Marcus Berg were on target for Sweden in a 2-0 success against Kazakhstan.
Van Persie limps out
A young Holland side looked sharp in demolishing Hungary 4-1 in Budapest.
The match brought some unwanted news for Manchester United fans, as £24m striker Robin van Persie limped out of the game injured.
Manager Louis van Gaal has said the thigh injury he sustained is precautionary but it will make him a doubt for the Red Devils Premier League clash with Wigan at the weekend.
Joining Holland on maximum points in Group D are Romania as they brushed Andorra aside 4-0.
Reigning world champions Spain were lucky to begin their qualification campaign with a victory.
Valencia hitman Roberto Soldado struck the only goal with just four minutes remaining in Tbilisi to break Georgian hearts.
The 1-0 victory for the Spanish puts them behind France in Group I but with a game in hand.
Les Bleus had to be patient against Belarus before coming away with an expectant 3-1 victory. Franck Ribery was among their goalscorers.
Elsewhere, Italy recorded a very nervy 2-0 home victory over Malta in Group B, Switzerland sit on top of Group E after a 2-0 triumph against Albania and in England’s group, Poland and Montenegro were expectant winners against the hopeless minnows, Moldova and San Marino respectively.
There is still plenty of time left in qualification for Brazil 2014 but it is important to get off to an excellent start.
The majority of the top nations apart from Italy and England remain 100 per cent after two games.
For the rest of the home nations, there is already a lot of work to do.
2014 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS – RESULTS FROM TUESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2012
Belgium 1-1 Croatia
Scotland 1-1 FYR Macedonia
Serbia 6-1 Wales
Bulgaria 1-0 Armenia
Italy 2-0 Malta
Austria 1-2 Germany
Sweden 2-0 Kazakhstan
Hungary 1-4 Holland
Romania 4-0 Andorra
Turkey 3-0 Estonia
Cyprus 1-0 Iceland
Norway 2-1 Slovenia
Switzerland 2-0 Albania
Israel 0-4 Russia
Northern Ireland 1-1 Luxembourg
Portugal 3-0 Azerbaijan
Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-1 Latvia
Greece 2-0 Lithuania
Slovakia 2-0 Liechtenstein
England 1-1 Ukraine
Poland 2-0 Moldova
San Marino 0-6 Montenegro
France 3-1 Belarus
Georgia 0-1 Spain
By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88
Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12