Three nations completed their qualification for the 2014 World Cup: Italy, thanks to a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic despite conceding first; the Netherlands through a 2-0 win over Andorra; and Switzerland, with an impressive 2-0 away win against Norway.
The highlighted game of the evening in Europe was England visiting the Ukraine, which ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw that keeps England on top of the group, but puts them in a less than comfortable situation against Poland and Montenegro going into the final two matches.
Group A – Nothing that really affected the qualifying teams. Scotland get only their second win of the campaign (2-1 at Macedonia) with goals from Ikechi Anya and an 89th winner from Shaun Maloney. Serbia complete a sweep over Wales with an impressive 3-0 away win, thanks to goals from Filip Djordjevic, Aleksandar Kolarov and Lazar Markovic.
Group B – Italy clinch their spot in the 2014 World Cup with a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic, that began with Libor Kozak stunning the Italians in the first half, but goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Balotelli finished the job. Denmark won in Armenia thanks to a Daniel Agger penalty (1-0) while Bulgaria won in Malta 2-1 with goals from Radoslav Dimitrov and Emil Gargorov, putting them one point ahead of Denmark in the race for second place.
Group C – Predictable results, although Germany still aren’t clear in the world cup. However, they did enjoy a 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands with goals from Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller. Sweden remained in second place with a 1-0 win over Kazakhstan with a goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic after 27 seconds, and Austria kept a feint hope alive by beating Ireland 1-0 with a David Alaba goal.
Group D – The Netherlands clinch their spot in the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Andorra (a brace from Robin van Persie). Turkey made things very complicated with a win over Romania (both with 13 points now) through a 2-0 win and goals from Burak Yilmaz and Mevlut Erdinc. Hungary remained second (14 points) thanks to a 5-1 win over Estonia.
Group E – Switzerland basically ensured their place in the next World Cup (need one more point) as they beat Norway in Oslo 2-0 with a brace for Fabian Schär. Slovenia enjoyed a 2-0 win in Cyprus (goals from Milivoje Novakovic and Josip Ilicic), while Iceland moved to second place through a 2-1 win over Alabania.
Group F – Russia reclaimed the top spot in the group, now one point ahead of Portugal, thanks to a 3-1 win over Israel with goals from Vasili Berezutski, Alexander Kokorin and Denis Glushakov in the span of 24 minutes. Luxembourg got a rare win with a 3-2 over Northern Ireland that doesn’t really change anything.
Group G – Bosnia and Greece remained all tied up at the top of the table with 19 points; Bosnia beating Slovakia 2-1 on the road (goals from Ermin Bicakcic and Izet Hajrovic), while Greece earned a 1-0 win over Latvia (Dimitrios Salpingidis). Lithuania beat Liechtenstein 2-0 in a match that mattered to no one.
Group H – England got the draw they wanted in the Ukraine (0-0), keeping them one point ahead of their rivals and Montenegro going in to the final two matches (both at home). Poland beat San Marino 5-1 to remain in the contest (fourth with 13 points).
Group I – France got out of a jam against Belarus, completing a 4-2 win, with Franck Ribery bringing them back from a deficit twice, accompanied by winning goals from Samir Nasri and Paul Pogba. It puts them level with Spain, but one match more played. Finland beat Georgia 1-0, which won’t help them.