Blog by: GB Vish
With qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup now underway during this international break, here are how the teams from Groups E, F, G and H in the UEFA Zone performed in the first of their two qualifiers.
Group E: Qualification still undecided
The Swiss lead Group E with 15 points but the Slovenians are only six points away from the top. With three games left, qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup is still up for grabs.
Norway are second with 11 points with both Iceland and Albania on 10. Any of these teams could qualify, as could Cyprus, who are last in the group with four points but mathematically, they could make it to Brazil.
The Icelanders showed great resilience away from home when they held the Swiss to a 4-4 draw after trailing 3-1 at half time. Stephan Lichtsteiner, Fabian Schaer and Blerim Dzemaili all scored for the hosts while a Johan Gudmundsson hat trick and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson gave the Scandinavians a share of the spoils.
Kevin Kampl’s goal for Slovenia gave them a 1-0 win over Albania while goals from Tarek Elyounoussi and Joshua King gave the Norwegians a win against the Cypriots.
Results: Switzerland 4-4 Albania, Norway 2-0 Cyprus, Slovenia 1-0 Albania
Upcoming fixtures: Norway vs. Switzerland, Iceland vs. Albania, Cyprus vs. Slovenia
Group F: Portugal, Russia, Israel all in the running
The Iberians top Group F with 17 points but the Russians are only two points away. The Israelis are third in the group on 12 points and all three teams could potentially make it to South America.
The Israelis will be looking for three points after being held to a draw by Azerbaijan in Ramat Gan with Itay Schechter scoring for the Arab side after Rahid Amirguliyev opened the scoring for the visitors.
Portugal put four past Northern Ireland in Belfast with Bruno Alves adding to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick as Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt scored for the hosts, who are fourth in the table, with Brunt and Helder Postiga both being sent off for their respective teams.
The Russians also put four past Luxembourg, as Alexander Kokorin (2), Alexander Kerzhakov and Alexander Kokorin scored for the hosts against the minnows who scored a consolation via Aurelien Joachim.
Results: Israel 1-1 Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland 2-4 Portugal, Russia 4-1 Luxembourg
Upcoming fixtures: Russia vs. Israel, Luxembourg vs. Northern Ireland
Group G: Surprise packages en route to Brazil
With no recognised heavyweights in this group, it is the Bosnians who are on top with the Greeks level on points in second place. Slovakia are third with 12.
The group leaders were upset 1-0 in Zenica by the Slovakians with Viktor Pecovsky scoring the only goal of the game. The Greeks repeated the same scoreline with Konstantinos Mitroglou helping the Hellenic side squeak past the Germanic team.
Latvia beat Lithuania 2-1 with goals from Nauris Bulvitis and Arturs Zjuzins scoring for the hosts, Deyvidas Matulevicius pulling one back for the visitors.
All results: Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-1 Slovakia, Liechtenstein 0-1 Greece, Latvia 2-1 Lithuania
Upcoming fixtures: Slovakia vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece vs. Latvia
Group H is set to go to the wire
England are the favourites in this Group, but Montenegro could make the World Cup on their qualification debut with both teams sitting on 15 points. The English are on top of the group but only on goal difference which was boosted via their 4-0 hammering of Moldova.
Steven Gerrard, Ricky Lambert and Daniel Welbeck (2) scored for the Three Lions as the Montenegrins missed a chance to top the group when they were held to a 1-1 draw in Poland.
Dejan Damjanovic scored for the visitors but Robert Lewandowski equalised just five minutes later. Ukraine, on the other hand, gave their goal difference a massive boost with a 9-0 walloping of perennial whipping boys San Marino.
The Euro 2012 co-hosts are a point behind Montenegro and their latest three points came with goals from Marko Devic, Yevhen Seleznov, Edmar, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Roman Bezus, Artem Fedetskiy, Yaroslav Rakitskiy and two from Yevhen Kacheridi.
All results: Ukraine 9-0 San Marino, England 4-0 Moldova, Poland 1-1 Montenegro
Upcoming fixtures: San Marino vs. Poland, Ukraine vs. England