UEFA Rewind: England reaches World Cup, Iceland among teams to reach decisive play-offs, and more

UEFA Rewind: England reaches World Cup, Iceland among teams to reach decisive play-offs, and more

World Cup Qualifying

UEFA Rewind: England reaches World Cup, Iceland among teams to reach decisive play-offs, and more

Steven Gerrard England (Getty Images)

By KEVIN KOCZWARA

England sure likes to make their fans sweat. It seems to be part of the process in qualifying for the Three Lions, making an entire country wait and wait. Instead of breezing through a group like fans and the media expect, England is almost always in a state of turmoil with qualification hanging by a thread.

Tuesday’s final group game could have been that kind of day for the English, with Poland looking to nip and force them into a play-off instead of qualifying directly for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. But the English prevailed with a necessary, if not nerve-racking, 2-0 defeat of the Polish at Wembley Stadium.

With the win that came courtesy of goals from Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard on each side of halftime, the English won Group H by a point more than Ukraine and avoided the deadly play-off scenario with the eight other countries that topped their respective groups.

England join other group winners Spain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Belgium as the first nine representatives from UEFA to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The four remaining spots from Europe will be decided via two-legged play-offs between eight of the nine group runner-ups in November.

Ukraine, Portugal, France, Sweden, Iceland, Croatia, Greece and Romania will be the teams trying to punch their tickets to next summer’s tournament after finishing second in their respective groups. Denmark was the odd team out of the play-offs after finishing second to Italy in Group B with 15 points, the lowest total among all of the runner-up teams.

Here are all of Tuesday’s European results (qualified teams in bold, play-off ones underlined) and UEFA’s current top goal-scorers in this qualifying cycle:

Cyprus 0-0 Albania

Azerbaijan 1-1 Russia

Greece 2-0 Liechtenstein

Israel 1-1 Northern Ireland

Lithuania 0-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Portugal 3-0 Luxembourg

Hungary 2-0 Andorra

Norway 1-1 Iceland

Romania 2-0 Estonia

Switzerland 1-0 Slovenia

Turkey 0-2 Netherlands

Latvia 2-2 Slovakia

Bulgaria 0-1 Czech Republic

Denmark 6-0 Malta

Serbia 5-1 FYR Macedonia

Faroe Islands 0-3 Austria

Italy 2-2 Armenia

Ireland 3-1 Kazakhstan

Sweden 3-5 Germany

Belgium 1-1 Wales

England 2-0 Poland

France 3-0 Finland

Montenegro 2-5 Moldova

San Marino 0-8 Ukraine

Scotland 2-0 Croatia

Spain 2-0 Georgia

 

1. Robin van Persie (Netherlands) – 11 goals

2. Edin Dzeko (Bosnia & Herzegovina) – 10 goals

3. Vedad Ibisevic (Bosnia & Herzegovina) – 8 goals

3. Mesut Ozil (Germany) – 8 goals

5. Wayne Rooney (England) – 7 goals

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What do you think of the results? Who was the best team/player in this European qualifying cycle?

Share your thoughts below.

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