Saturday, October 17, 2009

The surprises of spring

With qualification for the 2010 World Cup reaching its final stages teams with varying needs produced some unexpected results in October.
Needing only a draw to qualify, Slovakia were stunned 2-0 by visiting Slovenia but bounced back to win 1-0 in Poland and qualify for the finals. Bulgaria saw their hopes shattered 4-1 in Cyprus while England’s only defeat of their campaign gave Ukraine a place in the play-offs after following their 1-0 home win against the English with 6 goals in Andorra. Belgium enjoyed a 2-0 home win against Turkey but suffered a reversal in Tallinn at the hands of Estonia who had lost by the same score line at home to Bosnia & Herzegovina. Chile celebrated a place in the World Cup with a 4-2 victory in Colombia whose 2-0 win in Paraguay 4 days later was to no avail. Brazil who had already qualified, moved back into 2nd place in after losing 2-1 in Bolivia and playing a goalless match at home to Venezuela. Denmark’s celebrations for qualification were dampened when Hungary scored the only goal of the match in Copenhagen, while Germany who had qualified by winning 1-0 in Russia needed a late goal to avoid defeat and draw 1-1 at home to Finland. Serbia lost 2-1 in Lithuania but had already qualified by thrashing Romania 5-0 four days earlier in Zagreb. Azerbaijan registered a rare away win with a 2-0 success over Liechtenstein. The USA booked a place in the finals with a 3-2 victory in Honduras, while in Africa, Ghana who are World Cup bound, lost 1-0 in Benin. A last minute penalty gave Uruguay a 2-1 win in Ecuador, but they could only reach the play-offs after losing 1-0 at home to Argentina who became the last South American team to gain automatic qualification. In the Asia/Oceania first leg play-off match New Zealand held Bahrain to a 0-0 draw in Manama.