Italy, Spain move a step closer

France, Portugal leave themselves with plenty to do after stalemates

 
Nobody was in a position to join already-qualified Netherlands in securing a place at the finals in South Africa next year but Spain can make a provisional booking after seven wins out of seven following a 5-0 home thrashing of Belgium.

After forward David Villa missed an early penalty, Spain scored three goals in the 10 minutes either side of half time through David Silva, Villa and defender Gerard Pique. Midfielder Silva added his second goal after 68 minutes and Villa completed the rout five minutes from time to leave Spain on 21 points with three games remaining in Group Five.

Bosnia, 2-0 winners in Armenia, are second on 15 points with Turkey on 11 after a 4-2 home win over Estonia.

Italy needed two own goals by Kakha Kaladze, who plays his club football for AC Milan, to secure a 2-0 win in Georgia.

It was enough to keep them top of Group Eight with 17 points, a point clear of Ireland who won 2-1 in Cyprus thanks to a late header by striker and captain Robbie Keane.

Bulgaria are also still in the hunt on 11 points after they thumped visitors Montenegro 4-1. France, World Cup runners-up in 2006, still face a fight to reach South Africa after a disappointing 1-1 draw in their Group Seven match with Romania in Paris.

Thierry Henry's 48th-minute effort was cancelled out by a Julien Escude own goal to leave France on 14 points, four adrift of leaders Serbia. With Austria third on 10 points after beating Faroe Islands 3-1, the 1998 champions risk not even making the playoffs.

Portugal are up against it in Group One, even though Liedson cancelled out an excellent Nicklas Bendtner opener for Denmark. Portugal, who have drawn four and lost one of their seven matches, are struggling in fourth place on 10 points.

Denmark lead the way on 17 with Hungary on 13 after losing 2-1 at home to Sweden. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the last minute for the Swedes, who are up to third on 12 points.

Switzerland scored twice in the last six minutes to beat Greece 2-0 and go top of Group Two. Headers from Stephane Grichting and Marco Padalino took the Swiss to 16 points. Greece, who had Loukas Vyntra sent off in the first half, have 13, as do Latvia, 1-0 winners in Israel.

World Cup qualifying results

Qualifying results:

America: Honduras: 4 (Carlos Pavon 19, 27, Amado Guevara 61, David Suazo 83) bt Trinidad & Tobago: 1 (Kerry Baptiste 85); USA: 2 (Clint Dempsey 41, Jozy Altidore 45) bt El Salvador: 1 (Christian Castillo 32).

South America: Argentina: 1 (Jesus Datolo 66) lt to Brazil: 3 (Luisao 24, Luis Fabiano 30, 68); Chile: 2 (Arturo Vidal 10, Rodrigo Millar 52) drew Venezuela: 2 (Giancarlo Maldonado 33, Jose Manuel Rey 45); Paraguay: 1 (Salvador Cabanas 45 Pen) bt Bolivia: 0; Peru: 1 (Hernan Rengifo 86) bt Uruguay: 0; Colombia: 2 (Jackson Martinez 81, Teofilo Guitierrez 90) bt Ecuador: 0.

Africa: Côte d'Ivoire: 5 (Saidou Panandetiguiri 12, Didier Drogba 48, 65, Yaya Toure 55, Kader Keita 68) bt Burkina Faso: 0; Gabon: 0 lt to Cameroon: 2 (Achille Emana 66, Samuel Etoo 68); Rwanda: 0 lt to Egypt: 1 (Ahmed Hassan 67); Malawi: 2 (Chiukepo Msowoyo 46, 59) bt Guinea: 1 (Oumar Kalabane 38).

Europe: Spain: 5 (David Silva 41, 68, David Villa 49, 85, Gerard Pique 50) bt Belgium: 0; Georgia: 0 lt to Italy: 2 (Angelo Palombo 57, Kakha Kaladze 67 OG); Cyprus: 1 (Marios Ilia 30) lt to Republic of Ireland: 2 (Kevin Doyle 5, Robbie Keane 83); Israel: 0 lt to Latvia: 1 (Kaspars Gorkss 59); Turkey: 4 (Tuncay Sanli 29, 72, Sercan Yildrim 36, Arda Turan 61) bt Estonia: 2 (Vladimir Voskoboinikov 7, Konstantin Vassiljev 52); France: 1 (Thierry Henry 48) drew Romania: 1 (Julien Escude 56 OG); Switzerland: 2 (Stephane Grichting 84, Marco Padalino 88) bt Greece: 0; Slovakia: 2 (Stanislav Sestak 60, Marek Hamsik 73 Pen) drew Czech Republic: 2 (Daniel Pudil 68, Milan Baros 84); Poland: 1 (Aaron Hughes 80 OG) drew Northern Ireland: 1 (Kyle Lafferty 38); Croatia: 1 (Ivan Rakitic 24) bt Belarus: 0; Austria: 3 (Stefan Maierhofer 1, Marc Janko 16, 59 Pen) bt Faroe Islands: 1 (Andreas Olsen 83); Bulgaria: 4 (Radostin Kishishev 45, Dimitar Telkiyski 48, Dimitar Berbatov 85 Pen, Valeri Domovchiyski 90) bt Montenegro: 1 (Stevan Jovetic 8); Denmark: 1 (Nicklas Bendtner 42) drew Portugal: 1 (Liedson 86); Hungary: 1 (Szabolcs Huszti 79 Pen) lt to Sweden: 2 (Olof Mellberg 8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic 90); Azerbaijan: 1 (Elvin Mammadov 49) lt to Finland: 2 (Markus Heikkinen 74, Petri Pasanen 85); Armenia: 0 lt to Bosnia-Herzegovina: 2 (Senijad Ibricic 6, Zlatan Muslimovic 73); Moldova: 0 drew Luxembourg: 0; Russia: 3 (Vasili Berzutsky 17, Roman Pavluchenko 40 Pen, 45 Pen) bt Liechtenstein: 0; Ukraine: 5 (Andriy Yarmolenko 18, Artem Milevskiy 45, 90 Pen; Andriy Shevchenko 72 Pen, Yevgen Seleznov 90 Pen); bt Andorra: 0; Scotland: 2 (Scott Brown 56, James McFadden 81) bt FYR Macedonia: 0 
Asia: Bahrain 0:0 Saudi Arabia.

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