France make most of Spain slip

22 March 2013 11:17

France took control of Group I as they eased to a 3-1 victory over Georgia in their World Cup qualifier in Paris.

Despite Didier Deschamps' men controlling possession, it took them until first-half stoppage time to take the lead through Olivier Giroud's header. But goals early in the second half from the outstanding Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery put them in control before Alexander Kobakhidze got one back for the visitors.

Les Bleus are now two points clear of Spain, who dropped points in Gijon despite taking a 49th-minute lead through Sergio Ramos - on his 100th appearance for his country - with Teemu Pukki hitting back for Finland 12 minutes from time.

Germany remain an unstoppable force in Group C as they brushed aside Kazakhstan 3-0. Austria routed the Faroe Islands 6-0. Montenegro, who face England on Tuesday, remain two points clear in Group H after edging out Moldova 1-0. Also in the group, Ukraine recorded their first win of the campaign beating Poland 3-1.

Portugal needed Fabio Coentrao's last-minute goal to come from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 in Israel. Croatia claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Serbia in the first meeting between the two sides since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Belgium lead the group on goal difference after winning 2-0 in Macedonia.

Aleksandar Tonev scored a hat-trick as Bulgaria consolidated second place in Group B by hitting bottom side Malta for six in Sofia. Ivelin Popov, Emil Gargorov and Ivan Ivanov also got on the scoresheet. Denmark got their first win with goals from Andreas Cornelius, Simon Kjaer and Niki Zimling defeating Czech Republic 3-0.

Holland recorded their 13th consecutive World Cup qualifying victory, beating Estonia 3-0, to stay on course in Group D. All the goals came in the second half through Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Ruben Schaken. That sends them five points clear after Hungary were held 2-2 by Romania.

Turkey breathed life back into their fading qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over minnows Andorra, with Selcuk Inan and Burak Yilmaz getting the goals.

In Group E, Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson scored both goals to sink Slovenia 2-1 and keep Iceland's hopes of World Cup qualification alive. Norway slipped to fourth place after losing 1-0 at home to Albania, Hamdi Salihi getting the goal in the 67th minute.

Edin Dzeko scored twice as Bosnia-Herzegovina brushed aside Greece 3-1 in their top-of-the-table clash in Group G, sending them three points clear. Lithuania ground out a creditable 1-1 draw in Zilina to deny Slovakia a share of second place in the group, with Jan Durica cancelling out Darvydas Sernas' opener.

Source: PA