SPORTS

Tight at the top but Germany, Italy pull clear

Germany extended their lead in Group A to seven points as they won 2-1 in Austria on Friday while second-placed Belgium were held 1-1 by Turkey, who remain a point behind with a game in hand. Russia came from behind with Roman Pavlyuchenko’s hat-trick to beat Armenia 3-1 in group B. Slovakia then overcame Andorra 1-0 while Robbie Keane’s 50th and 51st international goals ensured Ireland a 2-0 win in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Unbeaten Italy kept their advantage in group C at five points as they won 3-0 against Estonia while Slovenia, who have played a game more in second, prevailed 2-0 in the Faroe Islands. Sweden is closer to the group E leader Netherlands, following Friday’s 4-1 victory in Moldova. Sweden’s extra game is on Tuesday at home to Finland, who won 1-0 in San Marino, where third-placed Hungary are next in action. Croatia moved to the top of group F by beating fourth-placed Georgia 2-1. However, Greece restored their one-point lead with a 3-1 win against Malta while Israel returned to parity with Croatia thanks to a 2-1 victory in Latvia.

In group G England came back from two down to draw 2-2 with Switzerland at Wembley while Montenegro were held 1-1 by Bulgaria. On 2 September, England visit Bulgaria and Montenegro go to Wales. Portugal’s 1-0 win in group H against Norway in Lisbon – reversing their autumn Oslo scoreline – leaves the pair level on ten points together with Denmark, 2-0 victors in Iceland. Liechtenstein got off the mark by beating Lithuania 2-0 on Friday in group I.

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