PARIS - Beaten Euro 2012 finalists Italy were held to a disappointing 2-2 draw by Bulgaria, but Didier Deschamps got his career as France coach off to a winning start as European qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil got under way yesterday.
Argentine-born striker Pablo Osvaldo scored a brace in only his third game for Italy, but the Azzurri were pinned back by goals from Stanislav Manolev and Georgi Milanov in their Group B match. Italy manager Cesare Prandelli's decision to revive the 3-5-2 formation he used only fleetingly at Euro 2012 looked questionable during a first-half in which Bulgaria regularly exposed Italy's defence.
In Chisinau, Frank Lampard ensured England made a smooth start on the road to Brazil as the Chelsea midfielder bagged a brace in his side's 5-0 demolition of Moldova.
Lampard's 24th and 25th international goals were the catalyst for a ruthless rout of the Group H minnows, while Jermain Defoe, James Milner and Leighton Baines also scored.
"We attacked and defended well and we were quick to get the ball back," he said.
"At 3-0 at half-time it was pleasing. There was always the risk it would get too easy but we played some good football and scored two more goals."
Germany, however, made heavy work of the Faroe Islands, two second-half goals from Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil required to save the Germans' blushes.
After Ireland's last-gasp 2-1 win in Kazakhstan earlier, Germany top Group C but wasted a chance to dominate their guests from the north Atlantic archipelago, who are ranked 152 places below the second-placed Germans according to FIFA.