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History-makers Bosnia-Herzegovina seal first ever WC spot; Spain through

October 16, 2013 13:36 IST

History-makers Bosnia-Herzegovina seal first ever WC spot; Spain through



Bosnia-Herzegovina have qualified for their first World Cup finals as an independent nation after they finished top of Group G with a 1-0 win over Lithuania.

First-timers Bosnia join Spain, England and Russia at World Cup

World champions Spain also made sure of their place at Brazil 2014, along with England and Russia. Croatia, Sweden, Romania, Iceland, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine and France will contest the play-offs next month.

The draw for the seeded play-offs takes place on 21 October in Zurich.

Denmark, who were runners-up in Group B, missed out as they were the second-placed team with the worst record in games against the teams finishing first, third, fourth and fifth in their group.

Image: Bosnia's Vedad Ibisevic (left) and Edin Dzeko celebrate a goal
Photographs: Dado Ruvic/Reuters


History-makers Bosnia-Herzegovina seal first ever WC spot; Spain through

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Vedad Ibisevic was Bosnia's hero as he scored what was the most important of his 20 international goals as the 29-year-old Stuttgart striker struck in the 68th minute.

His sidefooted effort came just two minutes after he had seen another shot brilliantly saved by Giederius Arlauskas, who had denied Bosnia throughout the match in a stunning performance.

Bosnia coach Safet Susic, who appeared in two World Cup finals for the former Yugoslavia, was over the moon.

"I congratulate these guys for their great work in thelast four years," he told local TV.

"It would have been a real injustice if we had failed to win the group and qualify for the World Cup." 

Image: Bosnia soccer national team fans celebrate their 2014 World Cup qualifying match victory over Lithuania, in Sarajevo on Tuesday
Photographs: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

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Spain beats Georgia 2-0 to seal right to defend World Cup title

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Spain has won the right to defend their Soccer World Cup title, with a 2-0 win over Georgia.

The world and European champions finished top of qualification Group I on 20 points from eight matches, three ahead of France, who beat Finland 3-0 in Paris and go into the playoffs.

Alvaro Negredo clipped a volleyed Andrés Iniesta centre into the net to put Spain ahead in the 26th minute.

The ManchesterCity forward scuffed a shot against a post five minutes before half-time before Juan Mata, who had replaced Pedro moments earlier, pounced on a loose ball and cracked home from close range in the 61st minute.

Spain extended their unbeaten run at home to 30 matches stretching back to a 1-0 reverse to Romania in a friendly in Cadiz in November 2006.

Image: Alvaro Negredo of Spain celebrates scoring the opening goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier match between agianst Georgia at Carlos Belmonte stadium in Albacete, on Tuesday
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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Ribery shines but France braced for playoffs

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Franck Ribery inspired France to a 3-0 win over Finland on Tuesday but they must now plan for next month's World Cup playoffs after missing out on automatic qualification with Spain sealing top spot in Group I.

Ribery, an own goal and Karim Benzema put France on 17 points but victory proved academic with Spain, who finished three points clear, overcoming Georgia 2-0.

France, 25th in the latest FIFA standings which will be updated on Thursday, are unlikely to be seeded in the playoff draw which takes place in Zurich on Monday.

The hosts went ahead after eight minutes when Ribery, a hot candidate for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award after another impressive showing, unleashed a missile from the edge of the area that flew into the top corner.

Les Bleus, however, were shaky at the back at times with left back Patrice Evra put under pressure.

In the 19th minute, Kasper Hamalainen beat the offside trap for Finland but his weak shot from inside the box went just wide.

France missed several clear chances but put the result beyond doubt in the 76th minute when Joona Toivio deflected Olivier Giroud's header into his own net.

Karim Benzema, who ended a 15-game goal drought for France in last Friday's 6-0 hammering of Australia in a friendly, volleyed in from Ribery's fine pass to make it 3-0 three minutes from time.

Image: Franck Ribery of France shoots and scores the opening goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group I match against Finland at the Stade de France in Paris on Tuesday
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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Schuerrle treble helps Germany beat Sweden in goal fest

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Andre Schuerrle grabbed a second half hat-trick as Germany fought back from 2-0 down to sink Sweden 5-3 in a thrilling World Cup Group C goalfest on Tuesday.

Nothing much was on the game because group leaders Germany had already secured automatic qualification for the 2014 finals in Brazil and second-placed Sweden were certain to progress to next month's playoffs.

The hosts, without suspended captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, took the lead when Tobias Hysen calmly slotted Sebastian Larsson's inch-perfect pass through the legs of keeper Manuel Neuer after six minutes.

Alexander Kacaniklic latched on to Kim Kallstrom's ball over the top to put the home team 2-0 up before Mesut Ozil pulled one back for Germany before the break.

Halftime substitute Mario Goetze levelled eight minutes into the second period before Chelsea winger Schuerrle twice punished defensive errors by the Swedes.

Hysen reduced the deficit with a first-time shot following Larsson's quick free kick but the night belonged to Schuerrle who curled in his third goal with 14 minutes left.

Image: Germany's Andre Schuerrle (centre) celebrates his goal against Sweden with teammates Mario Goetze (L) and Max Kruse while Sweden's Per Nilsson (2nd from left) and Mikael Antonsson react during their 2014 World Cup qualifying match at Friends Arena in Stockholm on Tuesday
Photographs: Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/Reuters

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No joy for Armenia as Italy rally for draw

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Italy ended Armenia's hopes of progressing to next year's World Cup with a 2-2 draw in their final Group B qualifier in Naples on Tuesday.

Armenia twice went in front but they were pegged back by a first international goal from Alessandro Florenzi and a Mario Balotelli strike.

Italy booked their ticket to the finals in Brazil by topping the group while Armenia finished second from bottom after starting the day with an outside chance of claiming second spot and a place in next month's playoffs.

"We started really badly with an embarrassing opening 20 minutes. Then we raised the tempo and from then on played quite well," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told Rai Sport.

"Unfortunately we conceded from a corner that we gifted them and came close to throwing everything away (but) I saw players who never gave up and that was a positive sign."

Spartak Moscow striker Yura Movsisyan capitalised on a sloppy start from the hosts to give Armenia a fourth-minute lead after Alberto Aquilani had given the ball away cheaply in front of his own penalty area.

Italy slowly took a grip of the game and in the 24th minute Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne, playing on his home ground, clipped a perfect cross for Florenzi to head in.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan put Armenia back in front when he rose above a sleepy defence at a 70th-minute corner to head powerfully past Federico Marchetti.

Balotelli equalised six minutes later when he raced on to a perfect through pass from Andrea Pirlo to score in stylish fashion.

The AC Milan striker then almost grabbed a wonder goal in stoppage time, shooting just wide after charging almost the entire length of the field and taking on the Armenia defence on his own.

Image: Armenia's Karlen Mkrtchyan (left), Robert Arzumanyan (2nd from left) and Varazdat Haroyan (right) challenge Italy's Mario Balotelli during their 2014 World Cup qualifying match at San Paolo stadium in Naples on TUesday
Photographs: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters

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Late Ramsey goal tempers Belgium celebrations

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Belgium ended their campaign on a muted note on Tuesday as a late strike by Aaron Ramsey secured a 1-1 draw for Wales, slightly dampening home celebrations to mark the country's qualification for a first World Cup in 12 years.

Having already booked their ticket to Brazil with Friday's 2-1 win in Croatia, the Group A winners threatened only sporadically for the first hour against a well-organised Welsh defence.

It took until the 64th minute for Kevin De Bruyne to break the deadlock, latching on to a pass from Romelu Lukaku and drilling the ball into the far left corner.

Belgium had chances to increase their lead through Kevin Mirallas and Lukaku, but with two minutes left, Ramsey, in prolific scoring form for Arsenal in the Premier League this season, took a pass from Craig Bellamy to prod beyond Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois.

That did not stop Belgium doing a lap of honour for their fans before a firework display.

"We had 12 chances, they had two. Of course there's a little bit of disappointment, but looking at the campaign as a whole, it's great," Belgium coach Marc Wilmots told a news conference after his side ended their campaign undefeated.

Image: Aaron Ramsey of Wales celebrates scoring a goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A match between against Belgium at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Tuesday
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

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Ukraine face playoffs despite thrashing San Marino 8-0

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Ukraine must negotiate the playoffs next month after finishing second in Group H behind England despite an 8-0 rout of a San Marino side who finished with nine men in their final World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Marko Devic struck a hat-trick for Ukraine but the easy win left them one point off top spot with 21 points from 10 matches after England beat Poland 2-0 at Wembley.

They will hope it is fourth time lucky in their two-legged playoff tie for a place at the 2014 tournament in Brazil having failed to reach the finals that way in three previous attempts.

The draw for the playoffs is on October 21 in Zurich.

Yevgen Seleznov gave Ukraine an early lead with a penalty after 13 minutes and Serbia-born striker Marko Devic doubled the advantage by firing low into the far corner three minutes later.

Seleznov struck again in the 19th before Devic headed home their fourth goal after 51 minutes, with both goals laid on by Ruslan Rotan who provided perfect crosses from the left.

Andriy Yarmolenko rifled home a fifth with a left-foot shot into the far corner four minutes later.

Devic then grabbed his hat-trick from the penalty spot two minutes later after San Marino defender Marco Palazzi brought him down and was sent off.

Roman Bezus scored in the 66th only a minute after coming off the bench and defender Vitaliy Mandzyuk headed home their eighth goal from a corner just before the final whistle with San Marino having Alessandro Della Valle sent off late on.

The final result saw Ukraine finish only one goal short of their record 9-0 victory away to San Marino last month.

Image: Marko Devic of Ukraine
Photographs: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

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