England topped Group G, to qualify, on Friday, October 7, 2011, for the Euro 2012 play-offs to be held in Ukraine and Poland, next year, while France’s fate hinges on the result of their game next week.
Of the 16 teams that will participate on the main draw of the event, in 2012, seven spots have so far been filled, including hosts Poland and Ukraine; five spots will be contested for in the games scheduled for Tuesday, October 11.
England were only team to secure the place in the finals, after playing out a 2-2 draw, with Montenegro, among the matches played on Friday. Among other teams, Russia have also virtually assured themselves of a spot in the play-offs, with a 1-0 win away in Slovakia. One point against minnows andorra, on Tuesday, would be suffficient, for Russia, to top Group B.
Three groups are headed for tense finishes; the most exciting games are likely to be between France and Bosnia, in Paris, to decide the qualifiers from Group D, and a clash between Portugal and Denmark, in Group H. Group F is also headed for a dramatic finish on Tuesday, after Greece grabbed the top spot over Croatia after beating them 2-0, on Friday.
While the best runner-up will be awarded the fifth remaining automatic berth the other four spots will be contested in a two-legged play-off by second-placed teams.
England were comfortably placed at 2-0 ahead of half-time, on the back of goals from Ashley Young and Darren Bent, while playing away against Montenegro, with a solitary point sufficient for Capello’s wards to qualify .
Elsad Zverotic struck to help the hosts reduce the margin on the stroke of halftime before drama ensued on 74 minutes, when England striker Wayne Rooney was sent off, with a red card; Andrija Delibasic converted the resultant penalty for Montenegro to get the hosts level on 2-2.
Montenegro, with 12 points, also qualified, after finishing second in the group behind unbeaten England who finished with 18 points from eight games. Montenegro’s cause was helped by Switzerland’s 2-0 away loss to Wales.
Germany, Spain, Netherlands and Italy, who had already qualified for next year’s main draw, won their respective games on Friday. Germany beat Turkey 3-1 in Group A, their ninth win in as many games. As a result, Turkey slumped to third place, a point adrift of second-placed Belgium who beat Kazakhstan 4-1.
Belgium have a tough last game away in Germany on Tuesday, while Turkey have a relatively easy home match with lowly Azerbaijan. Turkey will expect to win that game finish second in the group ahead of Belgium unless the wset Europeans pull off an unlikely win against Germany.
Czech Republic’s hopes of qualification were dealt a blow when the East europeans lost 2-0 in Prague to World and European champions Spain.
Scotland will hope to leap frog the Czechs into second place in the group after their game with Liechtenstein on Saturday. Scotland have a last league game scheduled with Spain, on Tuesday, while the Czechs travel to Lithuania. The Scots then visit Spain on Tuesday with the Czechs away to Lithuania.
Netherlands topped Group E with a 1-0 win over Moldova on the back of a goal by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, while Sweden’s 2-1 in over Finland secured themthe runners up spot in the group.
Group C toppers Italy’s first-minute lead on the back of goal by Claudio Marchisio was nullified by a fighting Serbia when Branislav Ivanovic scored the equaliser in the 26th minute to keep alive Serbia’s dreams of qualification.
France who beat Albania 3-0 are just a point ahead of Bosnia who beat Luxembourg 5-0, in Group D. France and Bosnia will meet in a shootout on Tuesday to decide the group leaders.
A similar tussle in the offing in Group H between Denmark who beat Cyprus 4-1 and Portugal who beat Iceland 5-3 to level the sides level on 16 points; the two will meet in a show down in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.