No Major shocks as Europe’s big guns ease through World Cup qualifiers

Updated: September 8, 2012

England, Germany, France and the Netherlands all started the long road to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil with victories but Italy stumbled out of the blocks when the European qualifying campaign began on Friday. Spain begin their campaign on Tuesday.

England won their opening Group H match 5-0 in Moldova, while Germany strolled to a relatively modest 3-0 Group C win over the Faroe Islands.

A first-half goal from Abou Diaby gave France a winning 1-0 start in their Group I campaign against Finland in Helsinki, while the Netherlands beat Turkey 2-0 in Amsterdam in Group D with Robin van Persie and Luciano Narsingh, who hit the second in stoppage time, scoring for the Dutch.

Italy, who have been world champions four times, had a topsy-turvy start in Sofia before drawing 2-2 with Bulgaria with Pablo Osvaldo scoring both their goals to put them 2-1 up after they conceded first.

Georgi Milanov equalised for the home side with 24 minutes to play and Italy could not find a winner.

Ireland’s bid to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002 began with a dramatic win as two goals in the final two minutes from Robbie Keane, who netted a penalty, and a volley from Kevin Doyle gave Trapattoni’s men a 2-1 win in Kazakhstan in Group C.

Capello’s Russia also started with a win, with goals from Viktor Faizulin and Roman Shirokov, who scored from the spot, giving them a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland in Moscow.

The highest scorers of the night were Bosnia, who began their quest for a first appearance in the finals by thrashing Liechtenstein 8-1 in Vaduz in Group G.

Belgium, reinforced their claims for a place in the finals with a winning 2-0 start in Wales where Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen scored, while Montenegro and Poland, in the same group as England, fought to a 2-2 draw.

Iceland claimed a shock 2-0 win over Norway in their opening qualifier with goals from Kari Arnason and substitute Alfred Finnbogason.

Red-hot Radamel Falcao struck early and striker partner Teofilo Gutierrez scored twice as Colombia romped to a 4-0 home win over Uruguay to put their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.