Spain and Germany maintained their perfect starts in European qualifying for soccer’s 2014 World Cup with easy away victories.
Pedro Rodriguez scored three goals as Spain won 4-0 in Belarus last night, while Germany routed Ireland 6-1 in Dublin. The Netherlands, Russia and Romania also won to stay perfect and England beat San Marino 5-0, leaving all with at least a share of the lead in their groups.
“I was pleased with the way we kept playing football from the first minute to the very last,” England manager Roy Hodgson said in an interview with ITV. “Five goals is a good result.”
The winners of each of the nine European groups qualify for the World Cup in Brazil, with the best eight runners-up going into a playoff for the remaining four slots.
Jordi Alba also scored as Spain made it two wins in two games in Group I. The world champion moves above France, which didn’t play, on goal difference in the group. Finland and Georgia tied 1-1 in the group’s other match.
Marco Reus and Toni Kroos scored two goals each as Germany improved to nine points in Group C. Sweden rallied to beat the Faroe Islands 2-1 to stay three points behind the Germans, while Kazakhstan and Austria drew 0-0.
Manchester United teammates Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck scored two goals each as England beat a San Marino team tied for last place at No. 207 in the FIFA World Rankings. Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added his first England goal to close the scoring.
“There are some great players there and to be in the England top five is something to be proud of,” he told ITV. “I am only 26 so hopefully I will score a lot more.”
England leads Group H with seven points, three more than Montenegro and Poland, who didn’t play. Moldova and Ukraine tied 0-0 in the group’s other match.
The Netherlands and Romania have nine points in Group D. Rafael van der Vaart, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Ruben Schaken scored in the Netherlands’ 3-0 win against Andorra, while Gheorghe Grozav’s goal lifted Romania past Turkey 1-0. Hungary also beat Estonia 1-0.
Alexander Kerzhakov’s sixth-minute goal gave Russia a 1-0 win against Portugal in Moscow that moved it atop Group F with nine points. Israel is third with four points, two behind Portugal, after a 6-0 rout of Luxembourg.
Belgium won 3-0 at Serbia and Croatia was a 2-1 winner in Macedonia to leave them tied for the Group A lead with seven points. Gareth Bale scored twice to lead Wales over Scotland 2-1 for its first win.
Switzerland continues to lead Group E following its 1-1 tie with Norway. Iceland was a 2-1 winner in Albania to move into second place and Slovenia defeated Cyprus 2-1.
Slovakia beat Latvia 2-1 to tie Greece and Bosnia- Herzegovina, which drew 0-0, for the top spot in Group G. Lithuania beat Liechtenstein 2-0 for its first win.
The next round of European qualifying games will be played Oct. 16.
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