UEFA: Keane makes history for Ireland; Euro 2012 qualifiers review
Robbie Keane made history in the Republic of Ireland’s 2-0 victory away at Macedonia on Saturday after becoming the first player from his country to reach the 50 goal landmark. Keane scored both goals and thus helped the Republic (Pld 6, Pts 13) top Group B on goals scored ahead of Russia and Slovakia who also won their Matchday 6 games against Armenia and Andorra respectively. Two of the top three, Republic of Ireland and Slovakia, face off in Dublin on Matchday 7 whilst Russia have a home tie against Macedonia.
Germany left it late to claim all three points away in Austria. Mario Gomez scored both goals for the Bundeself with the second of his goals coming in the 90th minute to give Germany (Pld 6, Pts 18) a 2-1 win in Vienna and preserve their 100% record at the top of Group A. Behind them Turkey and Belgium fought out a 1-1 draw in Brussels which left them way behind the group leaders and both can now only realistically qualify for a play-off spot.
WATCH AUSTRIA v GERMANY GOALS HERE:
It was business as usual for Italy who easily swept aside the challenge of Estonia on Friday with a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Giuseppe Rossi, Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini. The Azzurri (Pld 6, Pts 16) are five points ahead of second placed Slovenia in the Group C standings with the latter victorious in their game away at the Faroe Islands with a 2-0 scoreline.
France (Pld 6, Pts 13) dropped two points away at Belarus in Group D but remain top of the standings with a four point advantage over the latter. Eric Abidal’s 20th minute own goal was cancelled out by Florent Malouda just two minutes later, thus helping Les Bleus to a share of the points. Third place Romania closed the gap to five points between themselves and the group leaders with a convincing 3-0 win at home to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ciprian Marica (2) and Adrian Mutu scoring the goals.
With group E leaders Netherlands (Pld 6, Pts 18) playing a goalless friendly match against Brazil on Saturday it was left to Sweden to close the gap. The Swedes won easily away in Moldova by four goals to one with Johann Elmander (2), Ola Toivonen and Alexander Gerndt on target helping reduce the gap at the top to six points. Sweden still have a game in hand on the Dutch which they will play at home to Finland this Tuesday in Solna.
Things remain tight at the top of Group F. Group leaders Greece (Pld 6, Pts 14) expectedly won at home to Malta with goals from Ioannia Fetfatzidis (2) and Kyriakos Papadopoulos helping the Greeks come out with a 3-1 win. Croatia and Israel are hanging on the Greeks’ coat-tails however after both countries won their latest games against Georgia and Latvia respectively. Only one point separates Greece from Israel in third place with the two teams scheduled to meet other in the next round of matches in September.
WATCH GREECE v MALTA GOALS HERE:
England (Pld 5, Pts 11) remain top of the standings in Group G despite dropping two points at home to Switzerland. Tranquillo Barnetta scored twice from free-kicks to give the visiting Swiss a 2-0 lead at Wembley Stadium only for England to come back thanks to a 37th minute Frank Lampard penalty and an Ashley Young goal six minutes into the second half. Second placed Montenegro had the chance to overtake England at the top and went ahead in their game against Bulgaria through Radomir Đalović. The visitors equalized in the 66th minute thanks to Ivelin Popov and Montenegro blew their chance to put some daylight between themselves and England at the top of the standings.
There’s a three-way tie at the top of Group H with Portugal (Pld 5, Pts 10) leading the way on head-to-head records over both Denmark and Norway. Portugal beat Norway on Saturday with a solitary goal from Helder Postiga proving the difference between the two sides in Lisbon. Denmark had a comfortable 2-0 win away in Iceland with goals from Lasse Schøne and Christian Eriksen gifting the Danes all three points.
Finally there was only one game played in Group I this weekend with bottom side Liechtenstein clocking up their first international victory in four years after defeating Lithuania 2-0 at home. Goals from Phillippe Erne and Michele Polverino saw Liechtenstein win their first three points of the campaign and reduce the gap between themselves and fifth-placed Lithuania in the table to just one point.
WATCH LIECHTENSTEIN v LITHUANIA GOALS HERE:
Group I leaders Spain (Pld 5, Pts 15) were on friendly international duty in the United States and handsomely defeated the hosts 4-0 thanks to strikes from Santi Cazorla (2), Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Torres.