GROUP A | Azerbaijan 3-2 Kazakhstan
A superb game between the two sides at the foot of Group A saw Azerbaijan beat Kazakhstan 3-2.
A 20th minute goal form Sergei Ostapenko got the Kazakh’s off to the best possible start. But three goals in 15 second half minutes from Rauf Aliyev, Mohir Shukurov and Vagif Javadov put Azerbaijan 3-1 up and condemn the away side to their seventh defeat in eight games.
Vitaliy Evstigneev did get a goal back for Kazakhstan in the dying minutes, but it wasn’t enough to take them off the bottom of the group.
GROUP A |Austria 0-0 Turkey
A missed penalty from Arda Turan meant Turkey left Austria slightly aggrieved to only come away with a point.
A cagey first period saw only one shot on target from either side; the best of those two efforts going to Austria’s Marko Arnautovic, who forced Turkey’s Volkan Demirel in to a smart save. But Turkey came out for the second half with much more of an attacking intent, and it looked as if their chance had finally come in the 91st minute: ‘keeper Pascal Grunwald fouling Arda Turan in the box. But the Austrian No.1 made amends moments later, tipping the subsequent spot kick around the post.
The draw means Turkey stay in second place, a whole 10 points behind leaders Germany but only extended their lead over third-place Belgium to two points.
GROUP B | Macedonia 1-0 Andorra
John Toshack made it two wins from two as Macedonia coach with a 1-0 win over Andorra.
The first half, although goalless, was a fiery, open affair. Both Muarem Muarem and Goran Popov went close for Macedonia and Fernando Silva likewise for the Andorrans. Toshack’s side started the second half with real purpose, and were soon rewarded for their extra intent with a goal from Mirko Ivanovski – the first for his country.
That solitary strike means Macedonia stay in fifth position in the group with seven points, whilst perennial minnows Andorra continue to struggle at the foot of the table with zero points to their name.
GROUP B | Slovakia 0-4 Armenia
A brilliant second half performance saw Armenia trounce Slovakia 4-0 in one of the night’s most surprising results.
In a tightly contested first half, Slovakia captain Marek Hamsik had arguably the best effort – forcing Armenia ‘keeper Roman Berezovsky into a fantastic save right on the stroke of half-time. But Armenia soon silenced the Zilina crowd after the break: Yura Movsisyan, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Georvg Ghazaryan and Artur Sarkisov all got on the scoresheet to record a resounding 4-0 win in the space of 25 minutes to condemn Slovakia to their first home defeat in this qualifying campaign.
That win moves Armenia on to 14 points and joint-third with Slovakia, only a point behind second place Republic of Ireland.
GROUP C | Serbia 3-1 Faroe Islands
Serbia beat a hard-working Faroe Islands 3-1 to leave them second in Group C.
Milan Jovanovic opened the scoring for Serbia as early as the sixth minute and it was soon two. Former Manchester United midfielder Zoran Tosic doubled their lead with his first goal in this qualifying campaign. However, after a shaky first half hour, the Faroes soon found their feet, and a set-piece goal from central defender Frodi Benjaminsen made it 2-1 at half time.
The plucky islanders couldn’t continue that pressure after the break though, and Zdravko Kuzmanovic punished them with a neat finish on 70 minutes.
GROUP D | Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 Belarus
A late goal from substitute Zvjezdan Misimovic delivered Bosnia a hard-fought 1-0 win over nine-man Belarus.
In an impassioned first 45 minutes, the main talking point was the sending off of Belarus midfielder Timofei Kalachev for two needless yellow cards. The first, an unnecessary challenge on Senad Lulic and the second, a similar foul on Boris Pandza, saw English referee Martin Atkinson have no hesitations in sending off the 30-year-old. And things got even worse for Belarus late in the second half when Aleksandr Martynovich was also sent off for two bookable offences.
That two-man advantage finally paid dividends in the 87th minute when Misimovic pounced to seal the win for Bosnia, a result which moves them to within one point of group leaders France.
GROUP D | Luxembourg 2-1 Albania
Luxembourg recorded their first victory of the qualifying campaign and in the process, ended Albania’s already dim hopes of qualification.
Gilles Bettmer gave the hosts the lead on 27 minutes and the visitors were unable to fight back until midway through the second half. Erjon Bogdani netted the equaliser on 64 minutes, but not before his side were reduced to ten men after Ansi Agolli was sent off.
But 12 minutes from the end, substitute Aurelien Joachim bagged Luxembourg’s winner, and six minutes later Bodgani himself was dismissed as Albania finished with nine men to bring a dismal end to their Euro 2012 qualifying chances.
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