Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Headlines

Italy, Netherlands seal Brazil berths

BALOTELLI-PEN-ITALYPARIS, France, September 11- Italy and the Netherlands became the first European nations to clinch qualification for the 2014 World Cup finals with victories on a busy night of action on Tuesday.

Another of the continent’s most famous names, Germany, are also now on the brink of qualification, as are Switzerland, while Russia and England ensured that their destinies remain in their own hands.

The only World Cup finals Italy have missed remain the 1958 finals in Sweden, and Cesare Prandelli’s side knew that a win against the Czech Republic in Turin would confirm their participation in a 14th consecutive finals.

However, they had to overcome a scare in the Juventus Stadium before sealing first place in Group B with two games to spare.

Libor Kozak gave the Czechs the lead in the first half before Giorgio Chiellini netted a 51st-minute equaliser and AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli struck the winner from the penalty spot.

“We’ve qualified and we’re really satisfied,” said Prandelli, who is said to be preparing to resign from his post after next summer’s showpiece.

The Czechs’ defeat means that Bulgaria and Denmark are now best placed to contest second spot in the section and coach Michal Bilek tendered his resignation after the game.

The Netherlands, beaten finalists in South Africa in 2010 as well as the last time the World Cup was staged in South America, in Argentina in 1978, have struggled in this month’s qualifying double header.

But a scrambled 2-2 draw in Estonia coupled with a 2-0 win in Andorra on Tuesday proved enough for them to win Group D with two matches to spare.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie had saved the Dutch in Tallinn on Friday with an injury-time penalty and he scored twice four minutes apart early in the second half to see off Andorra.

Van Persie later described his team’s performance as “laborious” but his coach Louis van Gaal was more interested in the final outcome.

“We are very pleased to have qualified. When you look at the state of the team after the European Championship and the work we had to do, creating a new team, it has not been easy,” he said.

“So to be the first European country to qualify is a great result.”

Germany could have qualified on Tuesday too, but while they ran out 3-0 winners in the Faroe Islands, with Per Mertesacker and Thomas Mueller on target either side of a Mesut Ozil penalty, other results did not go in their favour.

Joachim Loew’s side needed Sweden to slip-up in Kazakhstan but a first-minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal, his 45th for his country, gave the Scandinavian nation a 1-0 win.

That means Sweden are on course to finish second in Group C, with Austria three points behind in third after a late David Alaba goal gave them a 1-0 win against the Republic of Ireland.

“It was a mandatory requirement to pick up three points here and it was the sort of game we had expected,” admitted Loew after Germany’s win, and they can now seal top spot by beating Ireland at home next month too.

Switzerland can wrap up qualification from Group E next month after a 2-0 victory in Norway, achieved thanks to a Fabian Schar brace, left Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side five points clear of Iceland with two games remaining.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

England still have work to do in Group H, even if a goalless draw in Ukraine left them a point clear of both their hosts and Montenegro, while Poland are also still in contention thanks to a 5-1 success in San Marino.

And France moved back level on points with Spain at the top of Group I, albeit having played a game more, after coming from behind twice to win 4-2 in Belarus.

Les Bleus ended a goal drought of over 500 minutes and overcame two howlers by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to win thanks to a brace by Franck Ribery and further efforts from Samir Nasri and Paul Pogba.

That means they are now guaranteed to at least finish second in the section.

Elsewhere, Fabio Capello’s Russia are back on top of Group F, a point ahead of Portugal, after downing Israel 3-1 in Saint Petersburg, while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece are still locked level on points atop Group G.

Bosnia came from behind to win 2-1 in Slovakia while a solitary Dimitrios Salpingidis effort allowed Greece to see off Latvia.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

More on Capital Sports

Football

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – There is light at the end of the tunnel. After failed promises over the last three years since its...

Athletics

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8 – Olympic Champion Caster Semenya and wife Violet Raseboya have hinted that they might be expecting a baby in a...

NFL

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Kenya’s history making Daniel Adongo, the first Kenyan to play in America’s National Football League (NFL), is now living...

Features

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – The Kakamega High School ‘Green Commandos’ have produced a plethora of talent over the past decades in Kenyan football...

© 2020 Capital Digital Media. Capital Group Limited. All Rights Reserved