England stroll past Belarus (World Cup Qualifiers review)

 Wayne Rooney’s exquisite brace helped England to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Belarus, after Steven Gerrard had opened the scoring with a stupendous 30-yard scorcher. England had trouble concealing the makeshift nature of a defense lacking the injured John Terry and Ashley Cole. Despite Fabio Capello’s reputation as down-to-earth person, there is an excitement to England, who have heaped up 14 goals so far in the group. Uncompromising as he so obviously is, his impact as a manager has lain in licensing gifted players to show their dynamism.

They have got the two most difficult games out of the way and managed to come away with maximum points. They may go on to win all the qualifiers now for all we know.

Portugal’s stuttering form continued as a goalless draw at home to 10-man Albania left them in third in group one. The Portuguese have now gone three World Cup qualifiers without a win and lie two points behind joint group leaders Denmark – who have a game in hand – and Hungary. Cristiano Ronaldo and boys will have to pull up their socks if they wish to play any part in the 2010 World cup in South Africa.

Wales came within 18 minutes of a celebrated draw against the might of Germany last night before a Piotr Trochowski’s first goal for his country frustrated their ambitions at the last and handed the home side an ill-deserved 1-0 victory.

Holland maintained their 100% record in World Cup qualifying group nine thanks to a 1-0 win over Norway in Oslo. Mark van Bommel scored the only goal after 64 minutes with a well-struck volley on his return to international football after a long injury lay out.

Alberto Aquilani’s debut goals for his country saw Italy hold off a stern challenge from Montenegro with a 2-1 win that maintained their position as group eight leaders, three points clear of Republic of Ireland, who have a game in hand. The Republic of Ireland clinched a 1-0 win over Cyprus with Robbie Keane scoring the winning goal.

Switzerland ended Greece’s 100% record after a deserved 2-1 victory in a closely-contested group two encounter in Athens. Alexander Frei and Blaise Nkufo scored for the Swiss.

Croatia hammered group six minnows Andorra 4-0 in Zagreb but are still five points behind leaders England. Schalke winger Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring and completed the rout three minutes from time from the spot. Ivica Olic made it 2-0 and Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric added a third in between.

Spain maintained their unbeaten run as they rallied from behind to a 2-1 win against a resilient Belgium in Brussels. The win keeps Spain clear at the top of group five with four successive wins, while it also stretches their unbeaten run to 27 matches. The only sour note was the loss of Liverpool striker Fernando Torres to an apparent hamstring injury inside the first 20 minutes.

Russia scored an easy victory over Finland with a 3-0 score line. Andrei Arshavin scored a goal in the death to put the match out of Finland’s reach after an own goal from defender Petri Pasanen and a goal from Sergei Semak.

In the South American World Cup Qualifiers Argetina suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against a vibrant Chile side. Paraguay continued the stupendous form to score a 1-0 win against Peru. Brazil were held to a goalless draw by a determined Colombia at Rio De Janeiro.

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