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Portugal ekes out 3-3 draw with Israel

Portugal is renowned for making hard work of supposed lesser teams in qualification and this Group F clash followed suit, with Paulo Bento's men recovering from a 3-1 deficit to draw 3-3 and stay on level terms with their hosts in the group.

Bruno Alves gave Portugal a lead after just two minutes, but Tomer Hemed, Eden Ben Basat and Null Gershon turned it around, only for Helder Postiga and Real Madrid full-back Coentrao to even things up.

The result leaves both sides on eight points in the group, with Israel shading things on goal difference.

Russia is the runaway leaders with 12 points, but its match away to Northern Ireland was postponed until Saturday because of heavy snow in Belfast.

Luxembourg remains rooted to the bottom of Group F after a goalless draw with fellow minnows Azerbaijan at the Stade Josy Barthel.

Group G

Edin Dzeko scored twice as Bosnia-Herzegovina brushed aside Greece 3-1 in Friday's top-of-the-table clash in Zenica to move three points clear in Group G.

Manchester City striker Dzeko opened the scoring in the 30th minute and made it 3-0 with his second eight minutes after halftime to all but wrap up the points for the hosts.

In between those two efforts, Vedad Ibisevic also got his name on the scoresheet, following up to score after Zvjezdan Misimovic had seen his 35th-minute penalty parried by Greek goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.

Greece managed to pull a late goal back through Theofanis Gekas, but it was not enough to prevent it losing its unbeaten record in Group G and a share of top spot.

In contrast, things are now looking good for Bosnia-Herzegovina to win the group and reach its first major finals, as it has already drawn in Greece and following Friday's results boast a five-point lead over third-placed Slovakia.

Lithuania ground out a creditable 1-1 draw in Slovakia, which quickly canceled out Darvydas Sernas' opener but, despite its dominance all over the pitch, a header from Jan Durica was the sum total of Slovakia's efforts.

The draw brings Slovakia up to eight points, where it sits two points shy of second-placed Greece, while Lithuania remains in fourth place with five points.

Latvia missed a penalty as Liechtenstein claimed its first point with a 1-1 draw.

Michele Polverino's opener briefly had Liechtenstein on track for a first World Cup win since 2005, but Aleksandrs Cauna's free kick dragged Latvia back into the tie. The same player saw his second-half penalty saved, however, and Latvia stays fifth in the group behind Lithuania and Slovakia.

Group A

Belgium leads the way in Group A on goal difference after a comfortable 2-0 win in Macedonia.

Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard with a penalty were on target for the visitors, who are now on 13 points from five matches and a goal better off then Croatia, which claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Serbia in the first meeting between the two sides since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

For such a potentially incendiary fixture, bust-ups and bone-crunching challenges were conspicuous by their absence as players and staff kept their heads.

Mario Mandzukic put Croatia in front midway through the first half and Ivica Olic made it two at the break, with Serbia offering more in the second half but ultimately coming up short.

The win strengthened Croatia's position at the top of Group A with Belgium as Serbia slipped further off the pace.

Wales came from behind to beat Scotland 2-1 at a blizzard-bound Hampden Park as both sides ended the game with 10 men.

Defender Grant Hanley gave the home side the lead the against the run of play with a header from a Charlie Mulgrew corner at the end of the first half and the Scots, in Gordon Strachan's first competitive game in charge, looked a bit more comfortable after the break.

However, in the 70th minute, after Scotland forward Robert Snodgrass was sent off for picking up his second yellow card of the game for a challenge on Welsh defender Chris Gunter inside the home penalty area, Aaron Ramsey levelled from the spot before Hal Robson-Kanu headed in the winner just over a minute later, with Ramsey shown a straight red card for a 'last man' tackle on James McArthur.

Group B

Aleksandar Tonev scored a hat trick as Bulgaria consolidated second place in Group B by hitting Malta for six in Sofia. The Lech Poznan forward scored twice in the first half to put the hosts in command before Ivelin Popov got a third just after the break.

Emil Gargorov made it four and Tonev completed his treble before Ivan Ivanov rounded off the scoring.

The win ensured Bulgaria remained Italy's closest challengers in the pool, while Malta stayed bottom and pointless.

Three second-half goals guided Denmark to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic as it claimed the first win of its World Cup qualification campaign.

The hosts had the better of the first half before Denmark took control toward halftime and was on top thereafter.

Denmark's superiority was rewarded with goals by Andreas Cornelius, Simon Kjaer and Niki Zimling moving the Danes to five points in Group B, the same as their hosts, although still five behind leaders Italy.

Group C

Two goals in three first-half minutes helped Germany to pick up three more points on its way to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup as it won 3-0 in Kazakhstan.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gotze's quickfire goals in the 20th and 22nd minutes unlocked the game for Joachim Low's men before Thomas Muller wrapped up victory for the Germans.

The win takes Germany six points clear of Sweden ahead of another game against Kazakhstan in Nuremberg on Tuesday.

Austria cruised to its second win of the campaign by crushing the Faroe Islands 6-0 in Vienna. Needing to keep the pressure on Sweden and Ireland in Group C, Austria dominated from the start against the group minnows and was 3-0 up inside the opening 30 minutes.

Philipp Hosiner scored the first two within 20 minutes, followed by goals from Andreas Ivanschitz, Junuzovic Zlatko, David Alaba, and György Garics.

Ireland maintained its fine away record under Giovanni Trapattoni to keep its World Cup dream alive with a goalless draw in Sweden.

Group D

The Netherlands recorded its 13th consecutive World Cup qualifying win to further improve its chances of reaching the finals in Brazil with a 3-0 victory over Estonia in Amsterdam.

After a frustrating opening half, substitute Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring on 47 minutes before Robin van Persie and substitute Ruben Schaken sealed victory to move the Dutch five points clear in Group D.

Alexandru Chipciu's goal in the third minute of stoppage time earned Romania a valuable 2-2 draw in their clash in Hungary.

The Steaua Bucharest player, on as an 86th-minute substitute, grabbed the visitors' second leveler of the match to keep his side level on points with Hungary in second place in Group D.

Balazs Dzsudzsak's penalty in the 70th minute had looked set to give the hosts victory, coming just three minutes after Adrian Mutu scored Romania's first equalizer with a penalty of his own to cancel out Vilmos Vanczak's opener.

Turkey breathed life back into its fading World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over minnows Andorra, although it was not the goal-laden result its fans might have been hoping for.

Abdullah Avci's men have had a hugely disappointing start to qualifying, picking up just three points from the opening four games before Friday, but a match against whipping boys Andorra offered the chance for the Euro 2008 semifinalists to begin to build some momentum.

Turkey had to settle for just the two first-half goals from Selcuk Inan and Burak Yilmaz.

Group E

Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson scored both goals to sink Slovenia 2-1 and keep Iceland's hopes of World Cup qualification alive.

Sigurdsson canceled out Milivoje Novakovic's opener with a 55th-minute free-kick, and then lashed home the winner 12 minutes from time after being played in by former Chelsea veteran Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Norway slipped to fourth place in Group E after suffering a 1-0 home defeat to Albania on Friday. Hamdi Salihi's 67th-minute strike proved to be the only goal of the contest in Oslo.

Group H

Ten-man Montenegro maintained its two-point lead at the top of Group H after Mirko Vucinic's goal was enough to win 1-0 at Moldova.

After a poor first half from Montenegro, Milorad Pekovic saw red early in the second half, but Moldova could not hold out.

Ukraine claimed its first victory in Group H by beating its Euro 2012 co-hosts 3-1 on a thrilling night in Warsaw.

The visitors had failed to win a competitive game since beating Sweden at last summer's tournament but a double salvo from Andriy Yarmolenko and Oleg Gusev put them on the right track.

Lukasz Piszczek ensured a few nervous minutes when he notched Poland's only goal but Roman Zozulya made the points safe for Ukraine on the stroke of halftime.

The goal difference swing sees Ukraine push Poland into fourth place behind England and Montenegro with Moldova dropping to fifth.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.


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