World Cup Qualifying: Andorra’s shock win as US grab rare point in Mexico City

world cup

By Mark Baber

June 12 – This weekend’s qualifying for the FIFA World Cup 2018 has seen all 52 teams vying for the 13 World Cup spots allocated to UEFA reach six matches completed in the first round group stage. 

In Group A Sweden recorded a significant 2-1 win against France knocking the French team off top spot on goal difference. The Netherlands took third place as they beat Luxembourg 5-0 and Bulgaria lost in Belarus.

In Group B Switzerland reinforced their top spot with a win against the Faroe Islands – Portugal are just three points behind and look safe for a second round spot at least as Hungary endeavoured to come away with a 1-0 loss in Andorra. It was a significant day for Andorran Josep Ayala who came on in the 88th minute to lay claim to the first World Cup qualifier he had ever failed to be on the losing side for – at the 27th attempt.

In Group C, Germany hit San Marino for seven, reinforcing their top position, whilst Northern Ireland’s 1-0 away win against Azerbaijan puts them comfortably in second place.

In Group D, all the weekend’s games including that between leaders Serbia and Wales ended in score draws, leaving this group the only one in which every team can still qualify directly for the finals.

In Group E, the top three teams recorded wins, with leaders Poland retaining a six point lead over Montenegro and Denmark.

In Group F, a frenetic finale saw Scotland go ahead and then England salvage a draw as Slovakia and Slovenia both made up ground with wins.

In Group G Spain and Italy remain top of the group (7 points ahead of their closest rivals) after both recording wins and face a crucial face-off on September 2 which should decide which team goes through directly and which into the second round.

Belgium look comfortable on top of Group H, with Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in second and third place fighting out a goalless draw.

In Group I, Iceland managed a 1-0 home win against leaders Croatia putting them on level pegging with 13 points. Both Turkey and Ukraine recorded away wins, against Kosovo and Finland respectively, eliminating their opponents from any chance of progressing to the World Cup.

Meanwhile, in CONCACAF qualifying, the United States forced a rare draw against leaders Mexico in the Estadio Azteca, leaving them level on points with Costa Rica after the weekend’s games and two points ahead of Panama who have a game in hand.

In OFC qualifying the Soloman Islands put themselves in with a chance of progressing to a final against New Zealand to determine who advances to inter-confederation play-offs.

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