World Cup Qualifying Round-Up: An Unpredictable Evening
October 17, 2012 in International
Well, yesterday was utterly insane.
In a region known for having its minnows beaten by double figures, the most recent batch of World Cup qualifiers threw up more shocks than a soap writer thrown onto power lines.
The night began with Croatia-Wales; the latter on a high after robbing the Scots, the former having lost at home once in 18 years, when a former Southampton academy member tore them to pieces. With another former Southampton academy member among their ranks, reasons for the Welsh to be optimistic.
These proved unfounded as the game was all about Luka Modric’s midfield wizardry, punctuated by the Welsh attempts to get the ball to Gareth Bale as quickly as possible. It finished 2-0, the goals coming from a botched back pass (I don’t care how bad the pitch was, hang your head in shame, Ashley Williams) and a goalmouth scramble. I doubt either Mandzukic or Eduardo care: they all count.
Overlapping (slightly) with this game was Belgium vs. Scotland, a game where the hosts felt the need to rest their No. 10, Eden Hazard, for bigger games.
Still, they laid siege to the Scotland goal, Kompany and Benteke’s efforts seeing this also end 2-0. You know what else ended? The Scots’ chance of a World Cup appearance and, hopefully for the future of Scottish football, Craig Levein’s spell in charge.
Added to the Serbs’ 1-0 loss to Macedonia, and this potentially tricky group seems pretty cut and dried, even at this early stage.
Away from Group A, Northern Ireland travelled to Portugal, where they had to sit through an awkward celebration of a certain player’s 100th cap, all while praying he had an off day.
After Niall McGinn gave them the lead after 30 minutes, all that time seemed well spent.
The game finished 1-1 after a Helder Postiga finish (remember him?), but this talented side have dropped five points from the last two games, while dominating possession. This is a problem for them. Our resident expert believes it’s a lack of a proper attacking midfielder, and from what I saw last night, he’s not wrong.
Meanwhile, Spain were busy dropping points in a qualifier for the first time in around 117 years*. They just couldn’t stand up to the might of Les Bleus, Hugo Lloris putting in a superhuman performance (AVB’s FAULT) and a 93rd minute goal from The French Grant Holt™.
Personally, I’m surprised Olivier Giroud didn’t hit the side netting.
Also, David Silva got injured, which I’m sure affects somebody.
But that wasn’t the most surprising result.
With half an hour to go, Germany were cruising 4-0 at home against Sweden. Pretty much routine. They were clearly not counting on Ibrahimovic’s header to begin the greatest comeback since Tony Christie at Comic Relief. The inefficient German defence could only watch in horror as the Swedes went on a scoring salvo, the win slipping through their fingers.
Not bad for an evening where the alternative was watching England being denied the chance to scrape a draw in Warsaw.
*not the actual time Spain went unbeaten.