Saturday, September 10, 2011

European doors open

httpEarly September matches saw Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands qualify for Euro 2012 as expected, but having enjoyed a handsome 3-0 win in Andorra, it was Armenia’s amazing 4-0 triumph in Slovakia, who had just held Ireland to a goalless draw in Dublin, that sent shockwaves around Europe. Estonia also soared in the rankings after stunning Slovenia 2-1 before returning home to hammer Northern Ireland 4-1 while their neighbours Latvia picked up a 1-0 win in Georgia, whereas Lithuania drew blanks at home to Liechtenstein. Bosnia and Herzegovina overtook Belarus in the table with a 2-0 win over their hosts, and Hungary also had a fruitful week winning 2-1 at home to Sweden and 2-0 away to Moldova. England eased to a 3-0 win in Bulgaria while Montenegro suffered a 2-1 loss in Wales and Israel lost by a single goal to their visitors from Greece. Norway fell to 2 goals in Denmark while Portugal sank Cyprus 4-0 in Nicosia.
Asia and Concacaf hosted World Cup qualifiers where Belize caused the biggest upset with the 3-0 grinding of Grenada in Saint George’s while St Kitts and Nevis had mixed fortunes managing only a 0-0 draw at home to Puerto Rico but beating St Lucia 4-2 on the road. Nicaragua returned from Dominica with a 2-0 win while the Dominican Republic made life difficult for El Salvador losing to their more illustrious hosts by the odd goal in five. Iraq suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Jordan but reversed the scoreline away to Singapore 4 days later and Australia came from behind at home to overcome Thailand 2-1 before travelling to Saudi Arabia where they ran out 3-1 winners. The Thais returned from their close match in Australia to continue their good form with a 3-0 victory over Oman while the United Arab Emirates took a 3-1 beating in Lebanon and Bahrain won 2-0 in Indonesia.
African heavyweights Egypt lost 2-1 away to Sierra Leone in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier and South Africa were humiliated by the same result in Niger while Angola celebrated a 2-0 home victory against Uganda. Botswana lost 1-0 in Togo while Benin could only draw 1-1 in Burundi and Morocco were held to a goalless draw away to the Central African Republic.