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Top guns in form at WC qualifiers

Sunday, October 14, 2012

BERLIN — World and European champions Spain swept to a 4-0 win at Belarus, Germany hit six in Ireland, England bagged five against San Marino, while Italy, Netherlands and Russia were among teams that stayed on track in World Cup qualifiers Friday.

Spain went top of group I with Pedro scoring his first hat-trick in international football after an opener from left-back Jordi Alba, in Minsk. Vicente del Bosque's side are level on six points with France, with the two sides meeting on Tuesday.

Marco Reus and Toni Kroos scored a brace apiece, while Mezut Oezil converted from the penalty spot and Miroslav Klose was also on target as Germany hammered Ireland 6-1 in Dublin in group C before they meet Sweden in Berlin on Tuesday.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit the winner as Sweden came from behind for a 2-1 win against the Faroe Islands, while Kazakhstand and Austria were goalless in the group. Germany have a maximum nine points, three more than Sweden.

Italy won 3-1 at Armenia with goals from Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo to lead group B on seven points from three games.

Bulgaria are two points behind after a 1-1 draw with visiting Denmark, while the Czech Republic, who beat Malta 3-1, are on four having played a game less.

The Netherlands ran out 3-0 winners against Andorra with goals from Rafael van der Vaart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ruben Schaken to move to nine points in three games in group D.

Gheorghe Grozav netted the winner in first-half stoppage time for Romania at Turkey for a third straight win in the same group to set up a top-of the table clash with the Dutch on Tuesday.

Hungary are three points behind after a 1-0 victory at Estonia.

In Moscow, Alexander Kerzhakov hit a sixth-minute winner for Russia in a 1-0 defeat of Portugal to make it three wins out of three for Fabio Capello's side in group F.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo could find no way through the Russian defence and the visitors created few chances despite having greater possession.

Russian have nine points after wins also over Northern Ireland and Israel last month, while Portugal remain second on six. Israel move two points behind Portugal with a 6-0 win in Luxembourg.

Wayne Rooney scored twice, once from the spot, and Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck also bagged a brace, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain netting near the end as England enjoyed a 5-0 win over San Marino at Wembley to improve to seven points from three games in group H. Moldova and Ukraine were goalless in the group.

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