Thursday, June 11, 2009

World Cup 2010 Qualifying Round-up

South America

Brazil and Paraguay continue to travel in opposite directions following the former's 2-1 win over the latter in Recife yesterday.

With heavy rain pouring down constantly throughout, Salvador Cabanas managed to put the away side in front from a deflected free kick after 25 minutes but Robinho volleyed in an equaliser just before half time. Four minutes into the second half, former Lyon striker Nilmar scrambled in a second and that's the way it ended.

Brazil therefore stay top of the qualifying group by a single point, but Paraguay slip to third after Chile notched up another impressive win, 4-0 at home to Bolivia. A brace from Udinese striker Alexis Sanchez and one each from Jean Beausejour and Marco Estrada mean Marcelo Bielsa's side are now second in the group, two points ahead of the Paraguayans.

And there was a big shock in Quito where Argentina crashed to a 2-0 defeat against Ecuador. "They didn't do anything in the first half," said coach Diego Maradona. "In the second half, they got a couple of rebounds and they scored two goals. If we had scored a goal, it would have finished the game off." The trouble for Argentina was that they didn't - Carlos Tevez had a penalty saved in the first half and Lionel Messi was also guilty of missing some decent chances.

Walter Ayovi, however, was not nearly so wasteful as he struck a brilliant 25-yard effort into the top right-hand corner with 18 minutes remaining. When Pablo Palacios added a second eleven minutes later, it was game over for Argentina.

That win lifts Ecuador up to fifth place above Uruguay who drew 2-2 with Venezuela. Colombia are seventh in the table after a 1-0 win over Peru who suffered their eighth straight defeat in qualifying.


England made it seven wins out of seven following a comfortable 6-0 defeat of Andorra at Wembley last night. Wayne Rooney and Jermaine Defoe provided two goals each while Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch picked up one apiece to leave England in with a chance of qualifying from Group 6 if they beat Croatia at Wembley in September.

Also in the same group, Ukraine beat Kazakhstan 2-1 thanks to two goals from Sergiy 'Cliff' Nazarenko. Kazakhstan had taken the lead after 19 minutes when Tanat Nusserbayev headed in but the Ukrainians (without star player and captain Andriy Shevchenko) battled back to go level on points with Croatia in third place.

In Group 4, Russia put the pressure back on leaders Germany with a convincing 3-0 win over Finland in Helsinki. With Guus Hiddink now devoid of any Chelsea commitments, his concentration was placed squarely on the Russian national team who are now just a point behind the Germans thanks to two goals from Dynamo Moscow forward Aleksandr Kerzhakov and one from Konstantin Zyrianov.

Elsewhere Sweden got their qualifying campaign back on track with a 4-0 win over Malta in Gothenburg. Kim Kallstrom and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were among the scorers as the Swedes drew level on points with Portugal in Group 1. In addition, the Dutch, who have already qualified from Group 9, reaffirmed their top billing with a 2-0 win at home to Norway while Macedonia beat Iceland 2-0 - both of which will give the Scots a little hope of getting the play-off berth in their group.

North and Central America

Javier Aguirre can finally celebrate a win for his Mexican side after a 2-1 victory at home to Trinidad and Tobago, but they didn't find it easy. Guillermo Franco scored after just one minute for El Tri, but with several chances missed the Soca Warriors equalised through Hayden Tinto at the end of the first half.

Three minutes into the second half, Oscar Rojas regained the lead for Mexico with a long-range effort and hung on uneasily for the win, although a return to third place in the group was prevented by a Honduran victory over El Salvador.

Carlos Pavon, Honduras' all-time leading scorer and star striker, hit the winning goal with a half-volley after just thirteen minutes in a bad tempered game that saw seven players receiving a yellow card. The win, however, means Honduras move up to third place in the hexagonal prior to an altogether more tricky game at home to group leaders Costa Rica in August. Also playing in Gameweek 6 are the United States who travel to Mexico and El Salvador who go to Trinidad and Tobago.


With three of the four automatic qualification places decided, the main focus in Asia now switches to Group 2 where the race for the remaining automatic spot is hotting up nicely.

While second-placed North Korea sat out yesterday's matches, Saudi Arabia drew level with them on points having fought out a tough 0-0 draw with South Korea. Iran picked up a vital 1-0 win over the UAE, who thus far have managed just one point from the 24 available, but their push for an automatic promotion place may have been left too late.

With North Korea and Saudi Arabia on 11 points and Iran on 10, Iran must beat South Korea in their final match next Wednesday and hope that Saudi Arabia and North Korea draw in order to go through. Anything less than a win for Iran will see their chance of gaining the third place play-off spot severely limited.

In Group 1, Bahrain lost 2-0 to Australia yesterday but remain on course for a play-off after Qatar could only draw 1-1 in Japan. That means Bahrain need only a draw in their final match against bottom-placed Uzbekistan next Wednesday to meet the team finishing third in Group 2.

The two-legged play-off for both of the third-placed teams will take place in early September and the winner of that will go on to play New Zealand in a further play-off nearer the end of the year.

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