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Belgium, Italy, Germany, Spain in sight

Published: Saturday 7 September 2013, 0.15CET
Belgium, Italy, Germany and Spain all moved closer to qualification on what was also a good night for England, one of relief for the Netherlands and one of goals in Switzerland and Ukraine.
by Paul Saffer

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Published: Saturday 7 September 2013, 0.15CET

Belgium, Italy, Germany, Spain in sight

Belgium, Italy, Germany and Spain all moved closer to qualification on what was also a good night for England, one of relief for the Netherlands and one of goals in Switzerland and Ukraine.

Belgium, Italy, Germany and Spain all moved closer to FIFA World Cup qualification on what was also a good night for England, one of relief for the Netherlands and one of goals in Switzerland and Ukraine.

Aiming for a first final tournament since 2002, Belgium now hold a five-point lead in Group A after a 2-0 win in Scotland. The only side that could catch them, Croatia, made sure of a top-two finish by drawing 1-1 in Serbia but still lost ground. Croatia now must beat Belgium on 11 October to take the group to the last day.

Italy may not have to wait until next month to make it to Brazil. The Azzurri overcame nearest Group B challengers Bulgaria and, as the Czech Republic lost 2-1 at home to Armenia to miss the chance to go second, Italy are seven points clear. A win against the Czechs on Tuesday would seal first place.

Germany's lead in Group C is five points after beating Austria 1-0 while Sweden overcame the Republic of Ireland 2-1 to take outright second place. The Netherlands are six points clear in Group D but their perfect record ended as they needed a last-gasp penalty to draw 2-2 in Estonia. Still, if they win in Andorra on Tuesday and second-placed Romania fail to beat Turkey, the Netherlands are through.

Switzerland also have a cushion in Group E but it is down to four points after an extraordinary 4-4 draw with Iceland. Norway beat Cyprus 2-0 and are second, a point ahead of Iceland and Albania, who lost in Slovenia – themselves just one point further behind.

Portugal remain two points ahead of Russia in Group F, Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick defeating Northern Ireland 4-2. England are now top of Group H on goal difference, their 4-0 win against Moldova wiping out the lead of Montenegro, held 1-1 in Poland. Ukraine, who beat San Marino 9-0, are just a point adrift; England go to Kyiv on Tuesday.

Holders Spain are a step nearer Brazil, a 2-0 win in Finland putting them three Group I points ahead of France, held 0-0 in Georgia. Greece, 1-0 winners in Liechtenstein, are now only behind Bosnia and Herzegovina on goal difference, the Group G leaders losing 1-0 at home to Slovakia.

The nine section winners qualify directly for the finals in Brazil. The eight runners-up with the best records against the teams finishing first, third, fourth and fifth in their pool go into November's play-offs.

Last updated: 08/05/14 4.38CET

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