Rooney shines as England continue to improve; Spain beat improving Belgium; Chile edge stuttering Argentina; Colombia frustrate poor Brazil

Belarus 1 – England 3 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) (Longer highlights here.) Steven Gerrard put England ahead in the 11th minute, the ball broke to Gerrard 30-yards out and the Liverpool captain expertly passed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner for a brilliant opener. But England switched off midway through the half, and they were punished when no existent marking allowed Pavel Sitko to ghost between Walcott and Brown and nod home a Stasevich cross. (First half highlights here.) England reasserted their authority at the start of the second half, Wayne Rooney profited after great work down the left from Emile Heskey. Capello watched his side kill the game in the 74th minute, Gerrard cushioned a pass into Rooney, and the United forward outfoxed both the covering defender and keeper to kill the game. England controlled the final stages of the game, and even though Gerrard hit the post when faced with an open goal, England rejoiced in a job well done.

Belgium 1 – Spain 2 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Spain’s incredible record of over 700 minutes without conceding a goal was shot down within seven minutes in Belgium, Kompany’s cross was headed home by Wesley Sonck (two in two). Axel Witsel then tried a spectacular overhead-kick, but his effort went just wide. But Spain responded with a stunning goal, Fabregas’ threaded a ball through to the advancing Andres Iniesta, he heading towards the goal, sold the keeper a dummy, and slotted in at the near post. On the stroke of halftime David Villa had a shot saved by Stijnen. (First half highlights here.) Iniesta came within a whisker of giving Spain the lead at the start of the second half with a rasping drive, but the European Champions were then indebted to Carlos Puyol, who saved off the line. Eventually Spain ran out winners, David Villa headed home the winner.

Italy 2 – Montenegro 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Italy’s Alberto Aquilani scored after just eight minutes, converting Pepe’s parried shot at the far post. Montenegro equalised through their star player Mirko Vucinic, but the Azzurri went into the break ahead after Aquilani completed a first half brace. (First half highlights here.)

Norway 0 – Holland 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Afellay and Carew exchanged half chances, and then Dirk Kuyt came closest when he rattled the crossbar. Norway then fell behind to the Oranje midway through the second half when Rafael van der Vaart’s corner fell to Mark van Bommel, who struck a low volley from outside the box that nestled in the bottom corner.

Germany 1 – Wales 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Per Trochowski scored a beauty to down Wales in a tight match.

Czech Republic 1 – Slovenia 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) The Czechs waited until the 62nd minute before they broke the deadlock, Libor Sionko rose high at the back post to head in Sverkos’ cross.

Russia 3 – Finland 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) After Zhirkov’s initial shot was saved, Petri Pasanen put through his own net to hand Russia the advantage. (First half highlights here.) Just after the hour mark Russia chalked up their second when a fabulous end-to-end move eventually ended when Lampi turned home a cross for the second Finnish own goal of the game. Andrei Arshavin capped off the win with a superb solo goal, beating two defenders and then Jaaskelainen before firing high in the near post.

Greece 1 – Switzerland 2 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) In the big game in Group 2, Alexander Frei put the Swiss 1-up in Greece from the spot after Behrami was hacked down in the box. Charisteas continued his recent form netting the equaliser in the 68th minute. But the Swiss came back to steal all three points, Blaise Nkufo was the hero rounding the keeper and scoring the winner.

Latvia 1 – Israel 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) After taking out the Latvian coach with a fine tackle, Yossi Benayoun gave Israel the lead just after the break with a superb run and shot, placed into the top corner, to set the visitors on target for their third victory in four group matches. But all hopes of opening up a gap at the top of the group were dashed as Vladimirs Kolesnichenko struck a late leveller to secure a point for Latvia.

Austria 1 – Serbia 3 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Radomir Antic’s team were 3-0 up within the first half hour with Milos Krasic (fantastic strike), Milan Jovanovic and Ivan Obradovic all scoring to all but put the game out of the home side’s reach. Marc Janko pulled a goal back with ten minutes remaining but a further fight-back never looked likely.

Croatia 4 – Andorra 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) The scoring was opened by Rakitic’s superb 20-yard freekick in the 16th minute. Luka Modric had a 32nd-minute penalty saved by Alvarez, but Olic slotted home the rebound to make it 2-0 at the break. Modric poached a deflected cross from just inside the box on 75 minutes while Rakitic added his second from the penalty spot three minutes from time.

Estonia 0 – Turkey 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008)

Lithuania 1 – Faroe Islands 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Tomas Danilevicius turned and shot from 20-yards out to put Lithuania ahead.

Malta 0 – Hungary 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Sandor Torghelle scored the only goal in the 23rd minute.

Slovakia 2 – Poland 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) After Ebi Smolarek had given the Poles the lead in the 70th minute, a quick-fire brace from Stanislav Sestak on 85 and 86 gave the home side an incredible win.

Portugal 0 – Albania 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Portugal haven’t won since their opening game of World Cup qualification and now have just five points from four games. Admir Teli was sent-off for Albania in the 50th minute for a tussle with Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Portuguese could still not find the breakthrough.

Bosnia-Herezegovina 4 – Armenia 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Emir Spahic and Edin Dzeko gave the home side a 2-0 lead at half-time (first-half highlights here). Zlatan Muslimovic added a third, before late on Vahagn Minyasan pulled one back and Muslimovic added the fourth (Second-half highlights here).

Georgia 0 – Bulgaria 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) (Longer highlights here.) A third consecutive draw, a third consecutive half-hearted display, dealt a significant blow to Bulgaria’s chances to qualify for South Africa 2010.

Chile 1 – Argentina 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) (Longer highlights here.) Debutant Fabian Orellana scored the only goal from a Gary Medel cross in the 35th minute.

Brazil 0 – Colombia 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) The Maracana jeered Dunga, the team and then left early as the Samba Boys produced another lacklustre display. (First-half highlights here. Second-half highlights here.)

Paraguay 1 – Peru 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Edgar Benitez got the only goal in the 81st minute after a scramble in the box. Paraguay now lead South American qualification by six points.

Venezuela 3 – Ecuador 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008)

Australia 4 – Qatar 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) (Longer highlights here.) Tim Cahill scored the opener on nine minutes with a sweet left-foot finish from a sweeping Socceroos move. The Everton midfielder then won a penalty eight minutes later after Qatar defender Koni was adjudged to have pushed him, allowing Emerton to bang home from the penalty spot. (First half highlights here.) The Socceroos effectively put the match beyond doubt just inside the hour, when Emerton netted his second, with Josh Kennedy completing the rout heading home a Luke Wilkshire cross. (Second half highlights here.)

South Korea 4 – UAE 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) South Korea took a 20th minute lead when Lee latched onto a through-ball to guide the ball goalwards. And just minutes later Ji-Sung Park added the second as awful defending presented the Manchester United midfielder with a goalscoring opportunity which he took with aplomb. With 20 minutes to go the Al Hammadi robbed the ball off the Korean defence, sold the keeper a dummy, and coolly pulled a goal back. But any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out by Lee, who bagged his second of the game with a low drive into the far corner. Kwak sealed the win with a fourth two minutes from time.

Iran 2 – North Korea 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) In the battle of the wannabe nuclear powers, veteran Mehdi Mahdavikia headed Iran in the lead, which was extended by Nekounam just after the hour mark. Jong Tae-se’s towering header pulled a goal back for North Korea, but they failed to find the equaliser. (Both second half goals can be seen here.)

Japan 1 – Uzbekistan 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Uzbekistan took the lead against the run of play, Shatskikh sliding in to score from close range after 27 minutes. Japan equalised through Tamada, who bundled home Okubo’s pull-back five minutes before halftime.

Canada 2 – Mexico 2 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Ali Gerba stunned the visitors when he caught Oswaldo Sanchez off his line to lob the keeper in the 13th minute, but Mexico levelled with a deflected Carlos Salcido free-kick in the 34th. The hosts regained the lead four minutes after halftime when Tomasz Radzinski pounced on slack defending, but Mexico forced another equaliser in the 64th minute when Matias Vuoso connected beautifully with a header from Giovani Dos Santos’s pass.

El Salvador 3 – Suriname 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) Rodolfo Zelaya and Eliseo Quintanilla put them 2-0 ahead in less than half an hour before Derrik Garden put through his own goal late in the game.

Jamaica 1 - Honduras 0 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) John Barnes continues to work wonders in the Carribbean, Luton Shelton rounded the keeper to score Jamaica’s only goal in the 16th minute to make it back-to-back wins for the Reggae Boys.

Trinidad & Tobago 2 – United States 1 (2010 World Cup qualifiers, October 15, 2008) 44-year-old Russell Latapy put Trinidad ahead in the 62nd minute with a volley which hit the post and bounced off keeper Brad Guzan and into the net. Charlie Davies equalised for the visitors from Jozy Altidore’s pass before Altidore turned villain four minutes later when he pulled Hislop’s shirt in the area and 40-year-old Dwight Yorke converted the penalty. The Americans, already sure of their place in the next phase, rested eight first-team regulars and lost their 100% record.

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