Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 11 September 2008

World Cup 2010 Update: Europe (again)

Last night saw Part 2 of the September double-header taking place in the European World Cup 2010 qualifiers, so let's give you the low-down and the hoe-down on what went on across the continent…

Group 1
Two very late goals from Christian Poulsen and Daniel Jensen turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory for Denmark against Portugal last night. Carlos Queiroz's men looked to have secured all three points when a penalty from Chelsea's Deco went in four minutes from the end, but the Danes fought back to inflict Portugal's first World Cup qualifying defeat since 1996.

Portugal are now third in the group with Denmark second. Albania top the table following their 3-0 home win over Malta while Sweden take second position after they won 2-1 at home to Hungary.

Among the next fixtures to take place in Group 1 during October, Portugal visit Sweden in what is now a very important tie for Carlos Queiroz's men, while Denmark can expect an easier ride when they host Malta.

Group 2
In a result which could be a contender for 'Performance of the Night', Luxembourg pulled off a surprise 2-1 away win against Switzerland. Despite scoring for the second successive match, Blaise NKufo's equaliser proved insufficient as Fons Leweck grabbed a winner four minutes from the end.

Elsewhere, Greece went top of the group with their second win on-the-trot, this time 2-0 away to Latvia. The Greeks have a two point lead ahead of Israel who also won - 2-1 in Moldova. Latvia are third and Luxembourg are fourth, both three points behind Greece, while Switzerland slip to fifth with only one point taken from a possible six.

October 11th sees Israel taking on the mighty Luxembourg, with Switzerland facing another potential banana skin in the form of Latvia. Greece face Moldova in Piraeus.

Group 3
The Czech Republic got their campaign off to a frustratingly slow start following their goalless draw with Belfast. Both sides had their chances, but none were taken as Nigel Worthington's men earned a valuable point against the team sitting 24 places above them in the FIFA rankings.

Poland go top of the group on goal difference after they scraped through 2-0 in San Marino, while Slovenia had to endure a late fightback by Slovakia to secure the three points that take them up to second spot, level on four points with Poland. Slovakia are third, just ahead of the Czechs who have played one game less. Northern Ireland are fifth with one point so far.

The Czech Republic are on the road again next month, this time taking on the Poles in Chorzow, while Northern Ireland go to Slovenia and Slovakia go to San Marino.

Group 4
Miroslav Klose's hat-trick saved Germany's blushes after they drew 3-3 with Finland. The Finns led the match three times during the match and were all set for a famous victory before the Bayern Munich striker earned his side a share of the points with an equaliser seven minutes from time.

Germany top the table by a point ahead of Russia who needed a late goal from Pavel Pogrebnyak to put their game beyond the reach of Wales in Moscow. Cardiff City's Joe Ledley had put the Welsh back on level terms after Roman Pavlyuchenko's 22nd minute penalty, but the Russians fought back to win their opening tie and push Wales down to third in the table. Finland are fourth, level on one point with Azerbaijan and Leichtenstein who drew 0-0 last night.

Next month, it's the clash of the titans as Germany play Russia in Dortmund. Wales will be looking for a point at home to Liechtenstein while Finland look for their first win when Azerbaijan pay them a visit.

Group 5
European champions Spain had no trouble beating Armenia in Albacete last night. Two goals from David Villa and one each from Juan Capedvila and Marcos Senna mean the Spaniards maintain their 100% record in Group 5.

A resurgent Belgium took an impressive point from Turkey in Istanbul. Wesley Sonck was on hand again with the opening goal after 31 minutes, but former Newcastle midfielder Emre popped up with a penalty sixteen minutes from the end to ensure his side held onto second place in the table, just ahead of Belgium.

Top scorers of the night, however were Bosnia-Herzegovina who put seven past Estonia which leaves the latter in bottom spot, just behind Armenia who travel next to Belgium. In other fixtures next month, Turkey stay in Istanbul to play Bosnia-Herzegovina while Spain drop in on Estonia.

Group 6
Well whaddya know… England aren't a bunch of dismal lightweights after all. A 4-1 demolition of Croatia in Zagreb was just the ticket to get the Three Lions pointing in the right direction again and up to the top of Group 6 with maximum points. Theo Walcott was the hero of the hour with a hat-trick that oozed class, poise and skill, although we're only going on an eyewitness account as we haven't given our thirty pieces of silver to Setanta.

No matter - we now have Ukraine for company on six points as they followed up their recent win over Belarus with a 3-1 win in Kazakhstan. Serhiy Nazarenko (didn't he used to play darts?) scored two and Andriy Shevchenko got the other to seal a comfortable win.

Belarus were celebrating a 3-1 win of their own away to Andorra which sees them occupy third place in the table ahead of Croatia and Kazakhstan in fifth. That means next month's clash between Croatia and Ukraine is the one to watch, unless you're confident Theo Walcott will force Kazakhstan into an embarrassing submission at Wembley. It could happen…

Group 7
This group already has a slightly surreal edge to it. Take Austria, for example. First they beat France 3-1 on Saturday, then they go and lose 2-0 to Lithuania last night. France, on the other hand, lost surprisingly to Austria and then beat Serbia 2-0 with goals from Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka.

And we haven't finished with Lithuania yet. That win over Austria follows a 3-0 demolition of Romania last weekend. Romania are obviously not the force they once were: they could only manage a 1-0 win away to the Faroes last night.

Can you work it out? We can, but only with the use of a group table that shows Lithuania as the new force in world football, sitting proudly in top spot. Serbia are second on three points - the same amount as Austria in third, France in fourth and Romania in fifth.

All to play for, then, and October 11th's fixtures look distinctly mouth-watering as a result. Romania play host to France, Lithuania travel to Serbia while Austria go to the Faroe Islands. Not that we're expecting much to happen there, oh no.

Group 8
Daniele De Rossi scored twice as World Champions Italy beat Georgia 2-0 last night. The Italians now top the group with six points out of six, ahead of Ireland on four and Montenegro on two. Both teams played out a 0-0 stalemate in Podgorica, so that leaves Bulgaria in fourth position and Cyprus fifth although both teams are yet to play their second games. Georgia prop up the table with no points so far.

Two more games follow on Matchday 3: Italy face a tricky tie in Bulgaria where their 100% record could face a strong challenge, while Georgia could pick up their first point(s) when they play at home to Cyprus.

Group 9
Last but not least, John Heitinga and Rafael Van Der Vaart both scored in the second half to win their opening game away to Macedonia. Also playing were Scotland who finally got their first win under George Burley thanks to goals from Kirk Broadfoot and Barry Robson as they beat Iceland 2-1 in Reykjavik.

That much-needed win for the Scots lifts them up to third in the table behind Macedonia (2nd) and the Netherlands (1st), although all three teams are level on three points. Norway (4th) and Iceland (5th) trail the leading pack.

Burley's men can now look forward to the visit of Norway next month with a little more self-assuredness, but a tough match is in prospect for both teams. The Dutch, meanwhile, play host to Iceland.

Well that's all from Europe for now, but we welcome you to join us for our upcoming reports as we plough ever-onwards through this week's remaining World Cup qualifiers from around the globe.

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