Germany, England on course for Euro finals

Big teams continue to make progress as Euro 2012 qualifying matches continue.

Germany football
 England’s victory over Wales will be considered on the most one-sided between the British rivals  [EPA]

Germany and England have maintained the strong starts shown by Europe’s big guns in Euro 2012 qualifying when easy wins over Kazakhstan and Wales respectively to keep them on course for the finals.

Germany hammered the Kazakhs 4-0 in Kaiserslautern on Saturday, with two goals each by Miroslav Klose and Thomas Mueller to make it five wins out of five in Group A that takes them eight points clear of Belgium and Austria.

England joined Montenegro at the top of Group G with 10 points from four games after a Frank Lampard penalty and a Darren Bent tap-in gave them a comfortable 2-0 win over Wales.

It must have been among the most one-sided of the 100 meetings between the British rivals spanning the last 132 years.

On Friday, group leaders Spain, Italy, France and Netherlands all won to continue their progress towards the
finals in Poland and Ukraine.

It was not all plain sailing for the favourites on Saturday, however, as Croatia lost 1-0 in Georgia.
Slavan Bilic’s side conceded an 89th minute goal scored by Levan Kobiashvili to hand top spot in Group F to Greece for whom Vasilis Torosidis scored five minutes into stoppage time to secure a 1-0 win in Malta.

Greece have 11 points, Croatia 10, Georgia nine and Israel seven after they beat Latvia 2-1.

Group H pacesetters Norway, who had won their first three games, needed a late goal to earn a 1-1 home draw with Denmark.

Group B leaders Russia also only earned a point as they were held 0-0 in Armenia, allowing Ireland, 2-1 winners over visiting Macedonia, and Slovakia, who won 1-0 in Andorra, to join them in a three-way tie at the top, all on 10 points.

The nine group winners and one runner-up with the best record qualify automatically for the finals with the eight other runners-up going into playoffs to produce four more qualifiers to join the two host nations.

Next assault

Germany, three times winners and three times losing finalists, can already start planning for their next assault on the championship after another dominating display.

Mueller, top scorer in the 2010 World Cup, struck twice before the break, both times set up by Mesut Ozil, as the injury-hit visitors struggled to deal with wave after wave of German attacks.

Klose, out of favour at Bayern Munich, continued to reward the faith shown by national coach Joachim Lowe when he scored at the start and end of the match, finding the target for a sixth consecutive game and taking his tally to 61 in 107 matches.

The win takes Germany to 15 points from five games, in which they have scored 17 goals and conceded one. Belgium and Austria have seven points.

England recovered from the blip of being held at home by Montenegro last time out with an easy win in the Millennium Stadium.

The game had been billed as a potentially tricky local derby but was effectively over after 15 minutes thanks to Lampard’s penalty and Bent’s close-range finish of a sweeping move.

England and Montenegro have 10 points with Switzerland and Bulgaria, who drew 0-0 in Sofia, on four. Wales have lost all four games.

Denmark looked to be on course for an important win in Oslo after a superb shot by Dennis Rommedahl gave them a deserved 27th-minute lead but Eric Huseklepp equalised nine minutes from

The point kept Norway top of Group H on 10 points, three clear of Portugal and Denmark. Cyprus and Iceland drew 0-0 in the group’s other game.

Bosnia kept themselves in the hunt in Group D as they beat Romania 2-1 to move to seven points. Albania beat Belarus 1-0 to leave both teams on eight, four adrift of leaders France.

Slovakia made hard work of beating Andorra in Group B as Filip Sebo’s 21st-minute header was all they could muster in the tiny nation who have lost all five games.

Ireland looked well set in Dublin as two goalkeeping errors by Edin Nuredinovski allowed Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane to put them 2-0 ahead but after Ivan Trichkovski pulled one back it was a nervous second half for the hosts.

Euro 2012 qualifying continues on Tuesday with 10 more matches, including world and European champions Spain playing in Lithuania and Netherlands at home to Hungary.

Source: Reuters