After a day of World Cup qualifiers and friendly matches; Mark’s world football rankings at: www.rankfootball.com has been updated resulting in many changes.
The day’s matches started in Asia with Japan securing top spot in their group after beating Iran 2-1. Bahrain lost 3-2 to bottom team North Korea in the same group despite pulling back a 2 goal deficit. There were celebrations in Uzbekistan after they came back from 2 down to beat Kuwait 3-2 and book a place in the Asian play-off match against Bahrain. South Korea huffed and puffed, but couldn’t cancel out an early Saudi Arabia goal in Seoul.
In Europe Cyprus found their trip to the Faroe Islands easier than expected and were comfortable 3-0 winners, while Finland enjoyed the same score line in Macedonia. Russia were held 1-1 in Latvia, and Slovakia returned from a disappointing goalless match in Liechtenstein. Georgia beat Kazakhstan 2-1 away from home with Demetraze finding the net twice, and Mutu scored both goals to earn Romania 3 points at home to Andorra.
In North America Guatemala got an important last minute goal to beat Panama 2-1, and an early goal was all the USA needed to get 3 points against Trinidad & Tobago. Mexico took another step towards the finals by beating Costa Rica 2-0.
The African champions Tunisia couldn’t add to their 2nd minute goal against Kenya, and Sudan beat Benin by the same result.
Among notable friendly matches was the meeting between the Netherlands and Germany. The hosts took a 2 goal lead, but Germany fought back to earn a 2-2 draw. England fell apart in Denmark, losing 4-1. All the goals came in the second half after another David James error had given Denmark the advantage. Isaksson make a string of saves to send the Czech Republic home with a 2-1 defeat. Poland who had their goalkeeper sent off in the first half won the Lobanovsky tournament in Ukraine by beating Israel 3-2, scoring 2 late goals after the Israelis had a player dismissed with 15 minutes left. The host Ukraine won 3rd place with 2-1 victory over Serbia & Montenegro.
In other friendly matches Argentina were 2-1 winners in Hungary, while Brazil drew 1-1 in Croatia. Switzerland enjoyed a 2-0 win in Norway, and European champions Greece continued their slide losing by the same score line in Belgium. Italy ended Ireland’s long run of unbeaten home matches with a 2-1 win. Portugal and Spain won 2-0 against Egypt and Uruguay respectively. South Africa froze in Iceland, losing 4-1 and Turkey suffered a 3-1 defeat in Bulgaria. Austria scored 2 late goals to gain a 2-2 home draw against Scotland, and Peru beat Chile 3-1. An international comeback by Zidane inspired France to a flattering 3-0 win over the Ivory Coast.
There were a total of 44 matches played with a lot of changes in Mark’s rankings which can be seen at: www.rankfootball.com