England 2 Slovenia 1 (Wembley 5 September 2009)
The Wembley friendly, in preparation for the crunch match against Croatia, ended with a narrow victory for England. Robert Green was lucky to get away with handling the ball outside his area in the 3rd minute and was beaten 4 minutes later when Novakovic ran past him but couldn't get his angles right and curled the ball over the bar. In the 21st minute Rooney dribbled his way into a shooting position but had his shot deflected over the bar and Terry hit the crossbar with a header from the ensuing corner. England were awarded a soft penalty which Lampard converted in the 31st minute and could have gone further ahead 4 minutes later when a corner kick fell to Rooney who could only hit the post from close range. Jermain Defoe was among the substitutes in the 2nd half and found the corner of the net with a confident shot from outside the area in the 63rd minute. After a good run into the box in the 71st minute, Aaron Lennon pulled the ball back for Rooney who had his effort blocked off the line. With 6 minutes remaining Ljubijankic flicked a low cross in with a header at the near post to give Slovenia a consolation goal and the visiting fans something to cheer about before they return home to entertain Poland in a vital World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.
Defoe on target again for England
In South America Uruguay's 1-0 defeat in Peru meant that Brazil became the first team from that region to qualify after their 3-1 win in Argentina. Chile suffered a setback when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Venezuela. European champions Spain kept up their perfect record bludgeoning Belgium 5-0 in group 5. In Group 1 a last minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal broke Hungarian hearts as visitors Sweden won 2-1 while Portugal earned a 1-1 draw with a late goal in Denmark. Northern Ireland and Romania drew 1-1 away to Poland and France respectively while The Czech Republic shared 4 goals away to their Slovak neighbours. In group 2 Latvia's 1-0 win in Israel put pressure on Greece who lost 2-0 in Switzerland, while a 2-0 win at home to Macedonia gave Scotland hope in group 9. Robbie Keane scored a late winner as the Irish won away to the spirited Cypriots in group 8 which is lead by the Italians who needed 2 own goals by Kaladze to win Georgia.
In North America Mexico strengthened their hopes of qualification with a handsome 3-0 win in Costa Rica while Honduras and the USA occupy the top spots after 4-1 and 2-1 home victories against Trinidad & Tobago and El Salvador respectively. Ghana became the first African team to join hosts South Africa after beating Sudan 2-0, while the Ivorian elephants took a step closer to the finals thumping their closet rivals Burkina Faso 5-0 and Cameroon won 2-0 in Gabon. In other African matches Morocco salvaged a 1-1 draw with a stoppage time goal in Togo and Tunisia drew 2-2 away in Nigeria. The first leg Asian play off between Bahrain a Saudi Arabia ended in a goalless draw.