Spain battle to win, England held, Germany and The Netherlands march on

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Updated: September 12, 2012

Spain stretched their winning run in tournament qualifiers to 23 as they began their quest to qualify for the  2014 World Cup with a 1-0 victory in Georgia. It was an 86th minute Roberto Soldado goal that eventually sealed the win and put them on track in their opening game in Tblisi. The World and European champions have now won every qualifyting game in the last 5 years, their last loss coming against Iceland.

Germany, who won all 10 of their qualification matches for Euro 2012, made it two from two in Group C but had to battle all the way for a 2-1 victory against Austria in Vienna.

Italy, beaten by Spain in the European Championship final, were unimpressive in a 2-0 win at home to lowly-ranked Malta.

England had to settle for a point against Ukraine in Group H, Frank Lampard’s late penalty salvaging a 1-1 draw at Wembley that put Roy Hodgson’s side level on four points with Poland and Montenegro.

France, who will battle for top spot in Group I with Spain, beat Belarus 3-1 in Paris to claim six points from two games.

All the top nations struggled, however the best performances on a busy night came from Russia, who won 4-0 in Israel to top Group F, the Netherlands, 4-1 winners in Hungary in Group D, and Serbia who beat Wales 6-1 in their Group A clash in Novi Sad.

Bosnia lead the scoring charts though after crushing Latvia 4-1 having put eight past Liechtenstein on Friday. Greece joined Bosnia on six points in Group G after beating Lithuania 2-0.

Portugal made it two wins from two in Group F with a 3-0 victory over Azerbaijan while Switzerland are the early pacesetters in Group E thanks to a 2-0 victory over Albania.

Belgium, who are strongly fancied to qualify for the finals in Brazil, came back from a goal down at home to Croatia in Group A to earn a 1-1 draw.

In South America, Gonzalo Higuain’s equaliser salvaged a point for Argentina in a disappointing 1-1 draw against Peru in their World Cup qualifier at the Estadio Nacional.

Striker Edinson Cavani hit a 67th minute equaliser to give South American champions Uruguay a 1-1 draw with Ecuador at the Centenario and save them from a second successive defeat in the World Cup qualifiers.

A curling free kick from Herculez Gomez gave the United States a much-needed 1-0 win over Jamaica in their CONCACAF region World Cup qualifier in front of a passionate crowd in Columbus.

Mexico booked their place in CONCACAF’s final phase of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica.

While Mexico are through with two games remaining in the third qualifying phase, El Salvador, who won 3-2 in Guyana, are on five points with Costa Rica on four and Guyana out of the running on one.

Panama lead Group C on nine points after a 2-0 victory over Canada with goals from Rolando Blackburn and Blas Perez.