The final full programme of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup took place on Tuesday evening. A number of the top nations dropped points whilst England's game in Poland was called off because of torrential rain, despite the stadium having a roof. Here's how the rest of the action went down:
Belgium 2-0 Scotland
The host side were widely expected to pick up 3 points after a comfortable 3-0 victory in Serbia at the weekend. Belgium had a number of great opportunities in the first half, denied by a mixture of Alan McGregor, some blocks and some poor finishing, particularly from Christian Benteke. But it was the Aston Villa forward that eventually broke the deadlock in the 69th minute with a close-range header. Belgium had brought on the reinforcements early in the second half with Eden Hazard and Kevin Mirallas taking to the field. Shortly after the first came the second. Centre back Vincent Kompany showed some nice feet inside the penalty area before blasting home. Group A is turning out to be a battle between Belgium and Croatia for the top 2 spots now; both 6 points ahead of the rest of the pack.
Croatia 2-0 Wales
There was only going to be one winner from the offset in this game as Croatia took the game to their weak opponents. It was the 27th minute when the hosts scored the opener. Ashley Williams sold his goalkeeper short which resulted in Lewis Price kicking the ball into the in-form Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic who blocked the clearance and headed into an open goal. Eduardo sealed the deal shortly before the hour when he tapped home from close range from a corner that Price had saved the initial effort.
FYR of Macedonia 1-0 Serbia
Whilst some of their fans stayed home to racially abuse Danny Rose in an under 21 loss to England, Serbia's senior national team were beaten in Macedonia. Nenad Tomovic was sent off on the hour for tugging down Ferhan Hasani and preventing the VfL Wolfsburg winger a one-on-one inside the penalty area. Agim Ibraimi coolly tucked away the resulting spot kick which turned out to be the only goal of the game, sending Scotland to the bottom of the group with Wales just above them.
Italy 3-1 Denmark
Cesare Prandelli has coached his nation to a 4 point lead at the top of group B following a 3-1 victory over Denmark in Milan. Italy seemed to be cruising after Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi scored in a 5-minute spell. The Roma midfielder has now scored headers in back-to-back games for the national team. William Kvist had given the visitors a lifeline with a sweet volley with the final touch of the first half. Mario Balotelli's goal 9 minutes into the second half seemed to kill the visitors off. The Manchester City striker connected with Andrea Pirlo's long ball to poke past Stephan Andersen who was having a nightmare in the Denmark goal; not even diving for Montolivo's opener.
Czech Republic 0-0 Bulgaria
A goalless draw in Prague saw both these nations lose position on leaders Italy in the group. However, topping the group is an unrealistic task for these two who now have a lead over Denmark in what looks set to be
an interesting battle for second spot.
Germany 4-4 Sweden
Perhaps the stand out scoreline of the evening as Germany threw away a 4-0 lead to draw 4-4 with Sweden in Berlin. Miroslav Klose helped him to two close range efforts to spring Germany out to an early two-goal advantage. The first sweeping home Marco Reus' cutback and the second finishing off a lovely one-touch passing move. The Polish-born striker is now one goal away from tying Gerd Müller's national record. Per Mertesacker volleyed home as Germany went into the break 3-0 up. The German's didn't take the breaks off to start the second half as Mesut Özil was given time to chest Thomas Müller's cross down inside the penalty area and calmly tuck the ball into the bottom corner. The Real Madrid playmaker remains joint-top scorer in UEFA qualification with 5 goals. Zlatan Ibrahimovic's headed goal in the 62nd minute from Kim Kallstrom's deep cross seemed like a consolation at the time. There was little celebration from the Swedes even when Mikael Lustig brought down another deep cross and beat Manuel Neuer at his near post from a tight angle to make it 4-2 in the 64th minute. With 15 minutes remaining Johan Elmander tucked home Alexander Kacaniklic's cut back from close range to setup a nervous ending for the hosts. And those nerves were turned into embarrassment 3 minutes into stoppage time as Rasmus Elm smashed home an equaliser following Per Mertesacker's failed attempt to head clear. This result means Sweden remain 3 points behind Germant at the top of group C but with a game in hand.
Faroe Islands 1-4 Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland put their 6-1 drubbing by Germany on Friday night behind them and picked up an important 3 points in the Faroe Islands. Despite a 0-0 half-time scoreline, 4 goals in the second half see Ireland gain on Sweden who they will be competing with for second spot in this group and a playoff spot.
Austria 4-0 Kazakhstan
Marcel Koller guided his side to their first victory in this qualifying campaign with an emphatic 4-0 thumping of Kazakhstan. Target man Marc Janko scored the first two; one in each half whilst German Bundesliga pair David Alaba and Martin Harnik added further goals.
Romania 1-4 Netherlands
The Netherlands won the battle between the top two in group D to move 3 points ahead after 4 games. Jeremain Lens' 20-yard header put the Dutch in front on 9 minutes after goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu was 6 yards off his line having punched away an inswinging corner. Poor set piece defending allowed Bruno Martins Indi to help himself to a close range tap in on 29 minutes before an individual effort from Ciprian Marica halved the deficit for Romania. Rafael van der Vaart restored the two-goal advantage in first half stoppage time after Gabriel Tamas fouled Luciano Narsingh inside the box. Robin van Persie added a fourth late on to maintain the Netherlands' 100% start.
Hungary 3-1 Turkey
Hungary were able to take advantage of Romania's loss to go into second place in the group with a 3-1 victory over Turkey. The hosts had to come from behind after Mevlut Erdinc gave Turkey the lead midway through the first half. Sampdoria's Vladimir Koman equalised within 10 minutes and goals from Adam Szalai and Zoltan Gera in the second half mean Hungary have started their qualifying game with 3 wins from 4.
Andorra 0-1 Estonia
34-year old striker Andres Oper scored the only goal of this game between two nations who had each lost their first 3 games. Andorra are now 4 defeats from 4 without scoring a single goal and conceding 13.
Iceland 0-2 Switzerland
Switzerland overcame what was set to be a tough match in Iceland to move 3 points clear in group E with a big victory. Tranquillo Barnetta opened the scoring with a cracking shot just inside the area into the top corner after Iceland failed to clear a corner. Switzerland secured the 3 points with 11 minutes remaining when Mario Gavranovic tucked home from close range following Stephan Lichtsteiner's scuffed shot.
Cyprus 1-3 Norway
Norway came from a goal down in Larnaca to move into second position in their group with a 3-1 victory. Efstathios Aloneftis would have had good reason to believe his 42nd minute goal was enough to give Cyprus a lead going into half-time, but Brede Hangeland scored his second goal of the international weekend just moments later. Tarik Elyounoussi scored a penalty with 8 minutes to go and seconds later Manchester United youngster Joshua King scored his first goal at international level.
Albania 1-0 Slovenia
Albania maintained their 100% record at home in this qualifying game with a 1-0 victory over Slovenia in Tirana. This result means the top 4 in this group are separated by 4 points after 4 games.
Russia 1-0 Azerbaijan
Fabio Capello's side took a while to get going before creating a couple of chances in the latter stages of the first half. The only notable efforts saw Alexandr Kerzhakov hit the top of the cross bar and a Dmitri Kombarov well tipped over the bar. Russia were poor and unimaginative in the final third as their lowly-ranked opponents held them firm without creating any chances of their own. One mistake proved fatal for the visitors as they conceded an 84th minute penalty in which Roman Shirokov smashed home to make it 4 wins from 4 for Russia.
Israel 3-0 Luxembourg
No surprises for Israel picking up 6 points over this international weekend after 2 games with lowly Luxembourg. Their 6-0 thrashing away from home on Friday was only followed up by a 3-0 win on Tuesday. 2 more goals from Tomer Hemed sees him amongst the joint-top scorers in qualifying with all 5 of his goals coming in these two games. This result sees Israel move into second position in the group but will have a tough job maintaining that when they face some tougher competition.
Portugal 1-1 Northern Ireland
Portugal dropped 5 points behind leaders Russia in group F after failing to beat Northern Ireland at FC Porto's Estadio do Dragão. Niall McGinn gave the visitors a surprise lead on half hour after Michael O'Neill's stole possession in midfield. They held onto their lead until the Helder Postiga finished on the turn 11 minutes from time. Northern Ireland managed to withstand pressure in the final minutes to cling onto a morale-boosting point. Portugal have relied on beating Bosnia and Herzegovina in the playoffs to progress to each of the last two international tournaments. Playoffs may have to be their route to the 2014 World Cup too.
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-0 Lithuania
3 goals in a 13 minute first half spell saw Bosnia and Herzegovina maintain their position at the top of group G on goal difference. Only Germany have scored as many as the 15 Bosnia and Herzegovina have scored in 4 games. Edin Dzeko has 5 of those. The Manchester City forward scored in the 34th minute of this game, either side of goals from Vedad Ibisevic and Miralem Pjanic.
Slovakia 0-1 Greece
Greece maintained the same points tally as Bosnia and Herzegovina with a valuable 1-0 victory in Slovakia. Dimitris Salpingidis scored the only goal of the game just after the hour mark. Greece kept their 3rd clean sheet in 4 qualifiers in the process and will travel to the group leaders for their next game in March.
Latvia 2-0 Liechtenstein
In a matchup of two winless sides, Latvia came out on top in Riga with a goal in each half.
Poland P-P England
Torrential rain in Warsaw prevented the match up between Poland and England taking place on Tuesday evening. The match has been put back to 5pm local time the following day.
Ukraine 0-1 Montenegro
Montenegro moved into second place in group H by picking up a victory in Ukraine. Dejan Damjanovic scored the only goal of the game in first half stoppage time. Ukraine have a big uphill task in qualifying for the Brazil World Cup now; 5 points behind the top 2 in this group with 3 games played. Both England and Montenegro have already played San Marino which is one positive Ukraine can look to, but having scored just 1 goal in 3 games is a big problem for Oleh Blokhin's side.
San Marino 0-2 Moldova
Moldova picked up their fourth point of the weekend and their fourth point of the group to move above Ukraine with a 2-0 victory in Ukraine. Although a top 4 finish is unlikely, it has certainly been a good couple of days for the nation.
Spain 1-1 France
Spain threw away 2 points in stoppage time as France pulled off a surprise in Madrid. Sergio Ramos had given the defending World and European champions a 25th minute lead from close range after his initial header had hit the post. Spain missed several more chances in both halves which included Tottenham's Hugo Lloris saving a Cesc Fabregas penalty. Arsenal's Olivier Giroud rescued a dramatic point for the visitors in the 4th minute of stoppage time to keep France on level points with Spain through 3 games. Olivier Giroud's goal ended Spain's 24 game winning streak in qualifiers since drawing 1-1 in Iceland on 8 September 2007.
Belarus 2-0 Georgia
In one of the earlier kickoffs, Belarus recorded their first points of this campaign with a 2-0 victory over Georgia. The opening goal came in the 6th minute before the Eastern European country doubled their lead in the 28th minute. Belarus jump above Finland as Georgia maintain their third place.
There are just 3 fixtures between now and new year before a full programme of qualifying games take place towards the end of March.