More World Cup spots taken up

2017-10-08 06:07
Spain’s Rodrigo celebrates scoring their first goal during their Soccer World Cup qualification match. (Heino Kalis, Reuters)

Johannesburg - Former world champion Spain is the latest country to book its place at next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The 2010 champions stormed into the 2018 World Cup as Group G winners after producing a ruthless first-half display to beat Albania 3-0 on Friday, while nearest challengers Italy were held to a 1-1 draw by Macedonia. The result ensures that Italy will finish second in Group G, although they are not yet certain of making the play-off round.

Croatia dented their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup by conceding a 90th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 home draw with Finland in Group I on Friday, which knocked their fate out of their hands.

The result left the Croatians second on 17 points ahead of the last round of games, two behind leaders Iceland, who moved above them with a 3-0 win in Turkey.

Wales secured a vital 1-0 victory in Georgia to keep their hopes of automatic World Cup qualification alive as Tom Lawrence sealed the points with his first goal for his country.

Lawrence’s goal put them clear in second spot in Group D with 17 points, a point behind leaders Serbia, who suffered a shock 3-2 loss to fourth-placed Austria.

Serbia are still favourites to win the group with a final home game against Georgia tomorrow, while Wales play third-placed Ireland in what may become a shoot-out to see who finishes as runners-up to claim a probable play-off spot.

USA overran Panama 4-0 in Orlando to leave them on the verge of automatic qualification. Top team Mexico are already through from the North, Central American and Caribbean Confederation, and second-placed Costa Rica need just a point from their final two matches to join them. – Reuters

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