England cruising in Sofia
Bulgaria 0 England 3 (Sofia Euro qualifier 2 September 2011)
In other European qualifiers Germany hammered neighbours Austria 6-2 with a hat-trick from Özil to become the first team to qualify for Euro 2012 while in the same group Turkey are leading the way for 2nd spot thanks to a last minute goal that gave them a 2-1 home win over Kazakhstan, as a late goal denied Belgium who returned from Azerbaijan with a 1-1 draw. The Republic of Ireland and Slovakia are equal on points after their goalless encounter in Dublin 2 points behind Russia who picked who picked up all 3 points with a single goal at home to Macedonia. Italy who could only manage a 1-0 win on their trip to the Faroe Islands are leading group C ahead of Slovenia who suffered a huge setback in their shock 2-1 home defeat to Estonia leaving the race for 2nd place wide open while Serbia earned 3 vital points with a goal in Northern Ireland. Bosnia and Herzegovina overtook Belarus with 2 goals in Minsk and Romania kept their hopes alive with the same result in Luxembourg while a 2-1 win in Albania was enough to keep France at the top of group D. Robin van Persie scored 4 times as the Dutch slaughtered San Marini 11-0 in Eindhoven while Hungary celebrated a 2-1 home win with a last minute goal against Sweden and a double from Hämäläinen helped Finland to a 4-1 victory over Moldova in Helsinki. Greece made it virtually a two-horse race with their 1-0 win in Israel as Croatia won 3.1 in Malta and Georgia lost 1-0 to the visiting Latvians. In group G Wales did England a favour by beating Montenegro 2-1 in Cardiff while in group H Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal sank ten-man Cyprus 4-0 in Nicosia and a late goal in Oslo broke the deadlock for Norway against Iceland. The Czechs bounced back with a last minute penalty in Scotland to earn a 2-2 draw while Liechtenstein held their hosts Lithuania to a goalless draw.
In Asia the third stage of the World Cup qualifiers got under way with Japan breaking the deadlock with a last minute goal against North Korea and Australia coming from behind to to send Thailand home 2-1 losers. Arsenal's Park Chu Young scored a hat-trick as South Korea sailed to a 6-0 home win over Lebanon while one goal in Tajikistan was enough to give Uzbekistan 3 points and Jordan scored twice to win in Iraq. Nekounam scored twice as Iran won 3-0 at home to Indonesia and Yousef Al Salman did enough with 2 goals for Kuwait to deny the UAE a late comeback as the visitors held on to a 3-2 success while there were goalless matches for Saudi Arabia in Oman and Qatar in Bahrain.
Among qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations Egypt fell 2-1 to a late penalty in Sierra Leone and South Africa lost by the same scoreline in Niger. There were goalless matches for Tunisia in Malawi and Morocco away to the Central African Republic while Ivory Coast won 5-0 in Rwanda and Cameroon enjoyed the same result at home to Mauritius. A goal in Togo gave the host victory over Botswana while Angola scored twice against visiting Uganda and Nigeria won 2-0 in Madagascar.
In friendly matches Spain came from 2 down to beat Chile 3-2 in a tempestuous match in Switzerland with Fabregas adding to his earlier goal with a last minute penalty. The U.S.A. lost 1-0 at home to Costa Rica while South American champions Uruguay won 3-2 in Ukraine.