Italy, Spain seal Euro 2012 berths
Florence, Italy – Giampaolo Pazzini scored five minutes from time as Italy booked a spot in the Euro 2012 finals on Tuesday, when reigning World Cup and Euro champion Spain also sealed a berth.
Co-hosts Poland and Ukraine were joined by Germany on Friday, and Pazzini gave the Italians the one goal they needed at Artemio Franchi to top Slovenia, 1-0, to secure the top spot in Group C.
Milan Jovanovic and Zoran Tosic scored in the first half as Serbia downed the Faroe Islands, 3-1, to stay second in Group C. Estonia beat Northern Ireland, 4-1, to remain one point behind Serbia. Slovakia is still alive in fourth.
Alvaro Negredo and David Villa each scored twice as Spain rolled to a 6-0 win over Liechtenstein and sealed Group I. Negredo scored his goals in the opening half, while Villa added his brace after the break.
Xavi and Sergio Ramos also scored for Spain, which has won all six of its Euro qualifiers.
Also in Group I, Steven Naismith scored five minutes after half as Scotland edged Lithuania, 1-0, to pull within two points of the Czech Republic for the second spot.
Group winners and the best second-place finisher automatically qualify for the Euro finals, while the other eight second-place finishers advance to a playoff series to determine the final four berths.
In Group A, Arda Turan missed a penalty in stoppage time as Turkey settled for a 0-0 draw with Austria to keep both clubs and Belgium still alive for second behind Germany. Azerbaijan edged Kazakhstan, 3-2, in a meaningless match.
In Group B, Russi and Ireland tied 0-0 to remain one-two, respectively, while Armenia downed Slovakia 4-0 to move within three points of the group lead and one point of Ireland, while Macedonia edged Andorra 1-0.
In Group D, France tied Romania 0-0, allowing Bosnia-Herzegovina to climb to within one point of the French atop the table with a 1-0 victory over Belarus, which was eliminated. Luxembourg edged Albania, 2-1, in a clash of the bottom- two clubs.
In Group E, Kevin Strootman and Luuk de Jon scored as the Netherlands moved to within reach of a Euro 2012 finals spot with a 2-0 win over Finland, while its lone remaining challenger Sweden used a Christian Wilhelmsson double to defeat San Marino 5-0 to remain within striking distance of first place.
Hungary defeated Moldova, 2-0, to remain even on points with Sweden for second but cannot catch the Dutch, as it has just one more match remaining and is six points back.
In Group F, Eduardo scored a brace as Croatia defeated Israel 3-1 to move into the group lead, passing former leader Greece, which tied Latvia 1-1 on a late tying goal from Kiriakos Papadopoulos.
Croatia leads the group by one point over Greece. The teams both have top-two spots sealed and two games left. Georgia tied Malta 1-1 in a meaningless game.
In Group G, Ashley Young scored in the fist half as England opened a six-point cushion atop the group with a 1-0 win over Wales. Idle Montenegro is six back, while Xherdan Shaqiri scored a hat trick as Switzerland downed Bulgaria, 3-1, to remain in the hunt for second place.
In Group H, Nicklas Bendtner scored twice and Denmark defeated Norway, 2-0, to force a three-way tie on points for first place with idle Portugal and Iceland earned its first win, 1-0 over Cyprus.