Holders Spain and the Netherlands maintained their perfect starts to UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying – albeit in different fashions – while Italy, France, Belgium and Serbia also won as the competition resumed for the new year. UEFA.com has the latest standings.
Spain won all three of their Group I games in the autumn but with 21 minutes left trailed the Czech Republic in Granada. David Villa levelled the scores – moving him one ahead of Raúl González's previous record of 44 goals for Spain – and four minutes later the FC Barcelona striker converted a penalty to leave the world and European champions six points clear of the Czechs with four games each left.
The Netherlands did it far more comfortably in Hungary, also opening up a six-point lead with their fifth Group E victory by an impressive 4-0 margin; the sides are rematched in Amsterdam on Tuesday. France also won on the road, their fourth 2-0 Group D victory in a row proving hard-earned in Luxembourg and taking them four points ahead of Belarus.
There were two matches in Group C, where Italy moved six points clear of Slovenia thanks to Thiago Motta's 73rd-minute goal in Ljubljana. Serbia joined Slovenia on seven points, coming from behind to defeat Northern Ireland 2-1. In Friday's other game, Belgium took second place in Group A from Austria with a 2-0 win in Vienna. That means leaders Germany could go eight points clear by beating Kazakhstan in one of 13 qualifiers to be played on Saturday.
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