Russia, Bosnia heading to Brazil


Russia secured its place at next year's FIFA World Cup finals by the narrowest of margins after conceding a last-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw in its qualifier against Azerbaijan.

Fabio Capello's side began the day three points clear of second-placed Portugal and needing a draw in Baku to ensure it would be on the plane to Brazil.

Roman Shirokov set Russia on the way after 16 minutes and a win looked even more likely when Maksim Medvedev was sent off for the home side after 73 minutes.

But Vagif Javadov's last-minute strike set nerves fluttering, although the visitor held on for the result it needed.

Russia finish the group one point ahead of Portugal, which was a comfortable 3-0 winner over Luxembourg but still has to settle for a play-off spot.

The 29th-minute dismissal of Aurelien Joachim left the visitor with a mountain to climb and it could not keep out goals from Silvestre Varela (30), Nani (36) and Helder Postiga (78).

The other match in the group between Israel and Northern Ireland ended in a 1-1 draw, with Eden Ben Basat giving the home side a 44th-minute lead before Steven Davis's reply (73).

Bosnia-Herzegovina will head to the FIFA World Cup finals for the first time in its history thanks to a 1-0 win over Lithuania.

Vedad Ibisevic scored the only goal after 68 minutes to ensure the Balkan side would top Group G ahead of Greece, whose 2-0 victory at home to Liechtenstein was not enough.

Dimitris Salpingidis (seven) and Giorgos Karagounis (81) were the scorers for Greece, which now faces a play-off if it wants to make it to Brazil.

In Group D, Romania beat off competition from Turkey and Hungary to finish second and bag a play-off place.

A 2-0 victory over Estonia, courtesy of two goals from Ciprian Marica (31 and 81), saw Romania finish two points clear of Hungary, which was also a 2-0 winner over Andorra.

Nermanja Nikolic's header (52) and an Ildefons Lima own goal (79) teed up the result for Hungary, which responded positively to last week's 8-1 mauling at the hands of Netherlands and the subsequent resignation of coach Sandor Egervari.

Turkey's hopes of finishing runner-up was ended with a 2-0 loss to Netherlands, for whom Arjen Robben (nine) and Wesley Sneijder (47) were the scorers.

Iceland will also have another shot at reaching Brazil as it claimed second place in Group E with a 1-1 draw in Norway.

The visitor led through Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's 13th-minute strike and although Daniel Braaten levelled things up on the half hour, the point was enough to see Iceland through ahead of Slovenia, which lost 1-0 in Switzerland.

Granit Xhaka scored the only goal in that match after 74 minutes for a Switzerland side which had already won the group.

The pool's other match between Cyprus and Albania finished goalless.

A last-minute goal from Renars Rode saw Latvia snatch a 2-2 draw at home to Slovakia in its final Group G qualifier.

The visitor was two goals ahead after 16 minutes thanks to Martin Jakubko and Kornel Salata, but Valerijs Sabala pulled one back early in the second half before Rode's late heroics.

Holder Spain finished top of Group I with a 2-0 win at home to Georgia.

Alvaro Negredo (26) and Juan Mata (61) were the scorers for Spain, which pipped France to the automatic FIFA World Cup spot.

France will go into the play-offs after ending its group campaign with a 3-0 victory over Finland, with goals from Franck Ribery (8), Joona Toivio (77 own goal) and Karim Benzema (87).

England is also heading to Brazil after strikes from Wayne Rooney (41) and Steven Gerrard (88) earned it a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley.

Ukraine had to settle for second spot in Group H despite an 8-0 demolition of San Marino. Marko Devic grabbed a hat-trick for the visitor with Yevhen Seleznyov (two), Andriy Yarmolenko, Roman Bezus and Vitaliy Mandzyuk also on the scoresheet.

Moldova rounded off its campaign with a 5-2 success in Montenegro.

Alexandr Antoniuc scored twice for the visitor with Igor Armas, Eugen Sidorenco and Artur Ionita also on target. Stevan Jovetic grabbed both of Montenegro's goals.

Croatia sealed the last play-off spot on offer even though it fell to a 2-0 loss in Scotland in Group A.

Robert Snodgrass and Steven Naismith were the heroes for the home side, but Croatia's earlier efforts in the group stage ensured it finished among the top eight second-placed teams.

Denmark was the side to miss out on the play-offs, finishing second in Group B with a 6-0 rout of Malta courtesy of goals from Morten Rasmussen (two), Daniel Agger (two), Andreas Bjelland and Bille Nielsen.

Denmark pipped Czech Republic to second spot, although Borek Dockal's strike ensured Czech Republic completed its campaign with a 1-0 win at home to Bulgaria.

Group B winner Italy was held to a 2-2 draw by Armenia. Alessandro Florenzi and Mario Balotelli were on target for the Azzuri with Yura Movsisyan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan replying for the visitor.

Belgium was also denied a winning end to its successful Group A campaign as it played out a 1-1 draw with Wales. Kevin De Bruyne gave the host a 65th-minute lead but that was cancelled out by Aaron Ramsey.

Serbia was an emphatic 5-1 winner over FYR Macedonia, with goals from Stefan Ristovski (own goal), Dusan Basta, Aleksandr Kolarov, Dusan Tadic and Stefan Scepovic.

FYR Macedonia's consolation came from the boot of Adis Jahovic.

Group C had already been decided before the final round of fixtures, with winner Germany coming away from second-placed Sweden with a 5-3 victory.

Andre Schurrle's hat-trick formed the backbone of Germany's victory with Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze chipping in. Tobias Hysen netted twice for host Sweden with Alex Kacaniklic adding another.

Andreas Ivanschitz, Sebastien Prodl and David Alaba were the scorers as Austria beat Faroe Islands 3-0.

Republic of Ireland hit back from Dmitry Shomko's opener to see off Kazakhstan 3-1 in Dublin. Robbie Keane and John O'Shea turned things around before a late own goal from Andrey Finonchenko rounded things off.

Source PA Sport