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Oct 12, 2012

Goals galore in qualifiers

England, Germany and Spain all secured big victories in Friday night's World Cup qualifiers.

Manchester United strikers Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck led the charge with two goals apiece as England cruised to a 5-0 victory over San Marino at Wembley.

• Qualification gallery Photo Gallery
• Brewin: Lions make meal of minnows

Rooney, wearing the armband in the absence of the suspended Steven Gerrard, led by example as he scored twice in what ultimately proved to be a comfortable victory for Three Lions.

England were always expected to emerge as easy victors against the European minnows, but it took Roy Hodgson's side more than half an hour to find the net.

Rooney opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Danny Welbeck, who moments earlier had hit the woodwork, was brought down by goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini.

Welbeck doubled England's advantage three minutes later with a neat finish, flicking the ball past Simoncini from Aaron Lennon's pull-back.

Rooney then sparked a second-half goal flurry, curling the ball in to score his 31st international goal and move ahead of Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney and Alan Shearer to become England's fifth-highest goalscorer.

As in the first half, Welbeck was not far behind, slotting home from Tom Cleverley's ball before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain capped an easy victory with his first senior England goal.

England were also given a boost as Ukraine, who earned a point at Wembley last month, played out a goalless draw against Moldova.

Ukraine, without Oleg Blokhin as the coach required surgery to remove a blood clot from a carotid artery, failed to produce their best form in Chisinau.

World champions Spain eased to a 4-0 win over Belarus in Minsk, with Pedro netting three goals.

Pedro provided the assist for Barcelona team-mate Jordi Alba to open the scoring on 12 minutes before completing an impressive hat-trick.

The result puts Spain ahead of France at the top of Group I on goal difference.

In the other game in the group, ten-man Finland secured a 1-1 draw at home to Georgia. Kuram Gashia put the visitors ahead on 57 minutes. Finland had Alexei Eremenko sent off soon afterwards, but Kasper Hamalainen equalised to give Mixu Paatelainen's men their first point of the campaign.

Germany made it three wins out of three in Group C as they recorded a thumping 6-1 victory over Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Marco Reus and Toni Kroos netted two goals apiece, while Mesut Ozil, with a penalty, and Miroslav Klose were also on the scoresheet. Andy Keogh headed a late consolation for the hosts.

Russia produced a strong defensive display to secure a 1-0 victory over Portugal in Moscow.

Alexander Kerzhakov scored the only goal of the game after six minutes following a defensive mix-up, with Russia then forced to withstand lengthy spells of pressure.

Cristiano Ronaldo led the charge, but Fabio Capello's men were resolute as they claimed a victory that maintains their 100% record in Group F after three games. Portugal are in second place with six points.

Israel are two points behind Portugal after a 6-0 victory in Luxembourg. Real Mallorca striker Tomer Hemed hit a hat-trick while Maharan Radi, Eden Ben Basat and Maor Melikson were also on target

Italy failed to hit top gear but emerged from their clash in Armenia with a 3-1 victory in Group B.

Italy took the lead with an early Andrea Pirlo penalty after Hrayr Mkoyan had handled, but the hosts were level on 27 minutes through Henrikh Mkhitarian.

A Daniele De Rossi header on 64 minutes restored the Azzurri's lead, and the Roma midfielder crossed for club team-mate Pablo Osvaldo to round off the scoring with ten minutes remaining.

Czech Republic battled to a 3-1 victory against Malta in Plzen.

Theodor Gebre Selassie opened the scoring in the 34th minute, but the visitors grabbed an equaliser four minutes later. Tomas Pekhart and Jan Rezek then scored to avert embarrassment for the Czechs, although former Coventry striker Michael Mifsud missed a 95th-minute penalty for Malta.

Also in Group B, Denmark are still searching for their first three points of the campaign after being held to a 1-1 draw away to ten-man Bulgaria.

Denmark, who drew their opening game against the Czechs, had an extra man for more than an hour in Sofia but were unable to make their advantage count. Dimitar Rangelov had put the hosts into an early lead before Ivan Bandalovski was dismissed in the 27th minute and, while Nicklas Bendtner levelled shortly afterwards, they could not find a winner.

Belgium secured an impressive 3-0 win in Serbia as they moved to the top of Group A.

Christian Benteke, Kevin De Bruyne and Kevin Mirallas scored the goals as the Belgians made it seven points from three games.

Croatia are also on seven points after claiming a 2-1 win away to Macedonia.

Agim Ibraimi gave Macedonia a surprise lead in the 16th minute, but Croatia hit back as Vedran Corluka levelled and Ivan Rakitic fired the winner from 25 yards.

Two late goals from Gareth Bale earned Wales a memorable victory as they came from behind to beat Scotland 2-1 in Cardiff.

James Morrison's first-half strike looked to have secured all three points for the visitors at the Cardiff City Stadium, but Bale equalised from the penalty spot ten minutes from time before netting the winner with less than two minutes remaining.

Netherlands maintained their 100% start as they dispatched Andorra 3-0 at De Kuip.

Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring on seven minutes with a long-range strike before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and debutant Ruben Schaken added their names to the scoresheet.

Romania trail the Dutch on goal difference alone after beating Turkey 1-0 at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium. Gheorghe Grozav got the only goal of the game just before the break as Nuri Sahin missed a good chance to level late on for the hosts.

Hungary trail Netherlands and Romania by three points after they beat Estonia 1-0 in Talinn, with Tamas Hajnal netting the goal at the start of the second half.

Sweden were forced to rely on Zlatan Ibrahimovic to avert embarrassment in a 2-1 Group C victory away to Faroe Islands.

Rogvi Baldvinsson gave the minnows the lead just before the hour mark, but Ibrahimovic set up Alex Kacaniklic for the equaliser and then the Paris Saint-Germain star scored the winner with 15 minutes to play.

Austria had to settle for a goalless draw in their Group C game at Kazahstan as both sides claimed their first point of the campaign.

Switzerland played out a 1-1 draw with Norway in Group E. Mario Gavranovic opened the scoring in the 79th minute in Berne, but Brede Hangeland headed an almost instant reply to ensure a share of the spoils.

Iceland battled to a 2-1 victory in Albania. After Birkir Bjarnason and Edgar Cani had exchanged goals, Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson smashed in a free-kick with nine minutes to play to give the visitors the win.

Also in Group E, Slovenia defeated Cyprus 2-1 thanks to a Tim Matavz brace. Cyprus threatened a comeback as Efstathios Aloneftis scored in the 83rd minute but, while Bostjan Cesar was dismissed late on, they could not secure a share of the spoils.

Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina are joint top of Group G after a 0-0 draw at the Karaiskakis Stadium.

The pair were joined on seven points by Slovakia, who beat Latvia 2-1.

A Marek Hamsik penalty and a further goal from Marek Sapara put Slovakia in control inside ten minutes and, while Maris Verpakovskis won and converted a penalty late on, those early strikes were enough to claim the victory.

Lithuania won 2-0 in Liechtenstein courtesy of a Edgaras Cesnauskis brace to secure their first three points in Group G.

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