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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Spain and Italy both cruise to wins as Ireland hold Wales to goalless draw

Gianluigi Buffon acknowledges the crowd during his landmark game.
Gianluigi Buffon faced only one shot on target in his 1,000th game for club and country.

Gianluigi Buffon kept a clean sheet in his 1,000th professional appearance for club and country as Italy beat Albania 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Buffon had little to do in his 168th cap for Italy, making only one save as the Italians controlled the action in Palermo.

The opening goal came in the 12th minute after Migjen Basha hauled down Andrea Belotti in the box during a set piece, and Daniele De Rossi converted the penalty.

Visiting Albania fans threw flares on the pitch before the spot-kick, and in the second half the game was halted for nine minutes after large amounts of smoke were set off from the stands.

Ciro Immobile made sure of the points for Italy in the 71st minute, heading home following a set piece.

Italy remained level on points with Spain atop Group G, though La Roja hold first place on goal difference following a 4-1 win at home over Israel.

Spain looked dangerous from the start as Thiago Alcantara saw his strike tipped onto the bar by Israel keeper Ofir Marciano, who then proceeded to have a miserable night.

The hosts took the lead seven minutes later when Jordi Alba nutmegged a defender with a pass to David Silva, who in turn put his shot between Marciano's legs.

Spain doubled the lead just before the break when Vitolo stayed onside to put a shot on goal without looking, and the ball rolled slowly past Marciano's outstretched hand.

At the start of the second half, Diego Costa missed an open header in front of goal, then a few minutes later made slightly better contact from short range, hitting the ball into the ground and then the goalkeeper, who again could not keep it out of the net.

Israel got a consolation with a quarter-hour to play when Lior Rafaelov lashed home after Rami Gershon's header came back off the post, but Isco capped the night with Spain's fourth three minutes from time.

In the final game in Group B, Boban Nikolov scored before a Ilija Nestorovski brace gave Macedonia a 3-0 win at Liechtenstein in a battle of teams who had failed to earn a single point from their first four games.

In Group D, Wales' qualifying hopes were dealt a blow in a goalless draw with Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Ireland lost James McCarthy to an injury in the warm-up, with David Meyler replacing the midfielder shortly before kickoff.

Gareth Bale picked up his second yellow card of the qualifying campaign for a foul on John O'Shea in the 68th minute, ruling him out of Wales' June qualifier against Serbia.

And Neil Taylor was sent off for a straight red a minute later following a tackle on Seamus Coleman that left the Everton player with what appeared to be a serious injury.

The result keeps Wales four points behind second-placed Ireland.

Serbia erased an early deficit to move top of Group D on goal difference with a 3-1 win away to Georgia.

Georgia's Nika Katcharava pounced on a terrible back pass from Aleksandar Kolarov in the sixth minute.

But Serbia equalised on the stroke of half-time through a penalty from Dusan Tadic, who then provided assists for Aleksandar Mitrovic and Mijat Gacinovic to score in the second half.

Elsewhere in the group, Marcel Sabitzer scored the opening goal before Martin Harnik's late second as Austria edged Moldova 2-0 in Vienna.

The win puts the Austrians level on points with Wales, though they have an inferior goal difference.

Nikola Kalinic scored as Croatia held off Ukraine 1-0 to stay on top of Group I.

The only goal came in the 38th minute as Ivan Rakitic back-heeled a pass into the box for Kalinic, who turned and fired into the back of the net.

Croatia maintained a three-point lead over Iceland, who are second after a 2-1 win against UEFA newcomers Kosovo in Albania.

Bjorn Sigurdarson scored the opener for the visitors on 25 minutes, before Gylfi Sigurdsson doubled the lead from the penalty spot 10 minutes later.

And though Atdhe Nuhiu got a goal back for Kosovo just seven minutes after the break, Iceland held on to move past Ukraine into second place.

Turkey defeated Finland 2-0 thanks to a four-minute brace from Cenk Tosun.

The Besiktas forward opened the scoring in the ninth minute, bundling home an Olcay Sahan flick-on from point-blank range.

Tosun then collected his second in the 13th -- the Turkey No. 9 rising and placing his pinpoint header past Finland keeper Lukas Hradecky from a Selcuk Inan corner kick.

The win revived Turkey's hopes of qualifying from Group I, pulling them level on points with Ukraine and two points back of Iceland in second.

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