WC qualifiers: Spain, England march on

England outplayed Kazakhstan 5-1 in the World Cup qualifying game after being booed off the field by its own fans at halftime.

updated: October 14, 2008 11:35 IST
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European champion Spain beat Estonia 3-0 to extend its unbeaten streak to 25 games, and England outplayed Kazakhstan 5-1 in another World Cup qualifying game after being booed off the field by its own fans at halftime.

Struggling France hit back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in Romania on Saturday and ease the pressure on coach Raymond Domenech, and Germany edged Russia 2-1 to stay at the top of its group.

World Cup champion Italy survived the absence of half the regular starters through injury to draw 0-0 in Bulgaria and stay in the lead of Group 8, although Marcello Lippi's team lost its perfect start.

The Italians have seven points from three games, three clear of Ireland, which did not play on Saturday.

Juanito Gutierrez and David Villa put Spain in control at Estonia and defender Carles Puyol added a third in the 69th minute as the Euro 2008 champions stayed at the top of Group 5 and maintained its two-point advantage over Turkey and Belgium, who also won.

Turkey edged Bosnia-Herezegovina 2-1 and Belgium overcame Armenia 2-0.

England needed 52 minutes to break down Kazakhstan before the Wembley goal rush started.

Wayne Rooney scored twice, forced a Kazakhstan defender into an own-goal and stand-in captain Rio Ferdinand and Jermain Defoe also scored. But Kazakhstan punished a casual backpass by England defender Ashley Cole to make it 2-1 in the 68th.

Ukraine and Croatia got a 0-0 draw to also help England, which has a perfect nine points from three games and now leads Ukraine by two and Croatia by five going into Wednesday's next round of matches.

Cole's blunder led to the England fans also jeering the Chelsea left back every time he touched the ball. In the past they have also booed Frank Lampard.

Down in fourth place in Group 7, France looked in more trouble when it fell two goals behind Romania inside the first 17 minutes in Bucharest. But Franck Ribery began the comeback in the 36th and Yoann Gourcuff equalized in the 69th with a dipping shot from 35 meters (yards).

The draw means that France moved a point closer to the lead and that should keep Domenech in charge for a little longer despite the team's dismal first round elimination at Euro 2008.

Serbia beat Lithuania 3-0 and both teams are level with six points with Austria, France and Romania at four each.

Lukas Podolski and captain Michael Ballack scored in the first 28 minutes against Russia in Dortmund and, although Andrei Arshavin replied in the 51st, the Germans held on to stay at the top of Group 4 with seven points from four games.

Wales jumped to second with six points after beating Liechtenstein 2-0. Finland jumped into third by edging Azerbaijan 1-0 and Russia slipped from second to fourth.

Despite the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, the pressure remained on Portugal after a 0-0 draw at Sweden in a Group 1 which is becoming closer with each round of games. Only the group winners are sure to advance, with the runners-up going into playoffs.

Denmark went to the top with seven points by beating Malta 3-0, moving two ahead of Sweden and three ahead of Portugal, Hungary and Albania. The Albanians fell from the top spot after losing at Hungary 2-0.

Greece stayed at the top of Group 2 and maintained its 100 percent record with a 3-0 victory at Moldova with two goals by Angelos Charisteas, one of the stars of its Euro 2004 triumph. The Greeks are two points ahead of Israel, which won at Luxembourg 3-1.

Joris Mathijsen and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar helped Group 9 leader Netherlands to an expected 2-0 victory over Iceland in Rotterdam despite the absence of seven key players through injury. The Dutch are two points ahead of Scotland, which was held 0-0 at home by Norway.

Scotland's Chris Iwelumo came up with one of the all-time worst misses at Hampden Park on his debut. The Wolves striker fired wide of an empty net from three meters (yards), only seven minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.

The Czech Republic's chances of reaching the World Cup got slimmer after a 2-1 loss to Group 3 leader Poland left the club six points behind the leaders.

Slovenia beat Northern Ireland 2-0 to stay level with seven points at the top, and Slovakia's 3-1 victory at San Marino means it is one spot behind with six points.