On the second European matchday of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, the headlines will be dominated by England's 4-1 win in Croatia and France's 2-1 defeat of Serbia. Nevertheless, there have also been a number of surprises, including Luxembourg's 2-1 win in Switzerland, Portugal's 3-2 home defeat by Denmark and Germany's last-gasp 3-3 draw in Finland.
Fabio Capello demonstrated his tactical nous by handing 19-year-old whiz kid Theo Walcott a starting place on England's right flank. The diminutive Arsenal attacker scored a hat-trick to help avenge the Three Lions' humiliating and costly defeats by Croatia in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2008. A rampant England took the match by the scruff of the neck and went ahead on 26 minutes, before soaking up sustained pressure from the host team. After Robert Kovac received his marching orders, Walcott doubled the visitors' advantage, Wayne Rooney added a third and the livewire Gunner closed out the scoring. This heavy loss is Croatia's first home defeat in a qualifier for either the FIFA World Cup or European Championship.
Germany owe a big thank-you to Miroslav Klose, whose treble enabled his countrymen to scrape a 3-3 draw away in Finland. The home side led on three occasions, only to see the Mannschaft claw back the deficit each time, the last goal coming seven minutes from the final whistle. Thanks to his hat-trick, Klose has now scored 44 international goals, one more than legendary German forward Uwe Seeler.
Portugal succumbed 3-2 to Denmark in Lisbon, where no less than four goals were scored in the last six minutes. Deco thought he had given his side victory after making it 2-1 on 86 minutes, only to see Christian Poulsen score a headed equaliser and Daniel Jensen notch the winner two minutes into injury time.
The biggest shock of the night was in Switzerland, where the hosts slipped to a 2-1 defeat by Luxembourg. Having gone behind to a goal from Jeff Strasser, the home side thought they had done the hard work when Blaise Nkufo hit an equaliser two minutes before the break. Nevertheless, the plucky visitors had the last word thanks to Alphonse Leweck's winner four minutes from time.
The other games
In Group 1, Sweden triumphed 2-1 at home against Hungary, while Albania continued to punch above their weight with a 3-0 victory over Malta, which takes them to a total of four points from two matches.
Greece are sitting pretty at the top of Group 2 with two victories, the last a 2-0 win in Latvia thanks to a double by Theofanis Gekas. Israel's hard-fought 2-1 victory in Moldova puts them in second place. There was a minor upset in Group 3 where group favourites Czech Republic could only manage a goalless draw away in Northern Ireland. Milivoje Novakovic's brace earned Slovenia a deserved 2-1 win over visitors Slovakia, while Poland laboured to a 2-0 win in San Marino.
In Group 4, Russia left it late to secure a 2-1 home victory against Wales, a match played out in driving rain. Pavel Pogrebnyak came off the bench to grab the winning goal nine minutes from the end. The biggest victory of the night was achieved in Group 5 by Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose seven goals against visitors Estonia included a hat-trick by Zvjezdan Misimovic and a brace from Edin Dzeko. Belgium clinched a deserved 1-1 draw in Turkey, while in Albacete, European champions Spain swept aside Armenia 4-0.
Ukraine triumphed 3-1 in Kazakhstan to make it two wins from two in Group 6, keeping them level on points with England.
The situation is particularly tight in Group 7, where France bounced back from their opening-matchday defeat in Austria to edge out Serbia 2-1 in Paris. Romania also picked up their first points with a narrow 1-0 win in the Faroe Islands, while Lithuania are the surprise leaders following a comfortable 2-0 success at home to Austria.
Italy are already taking charge of Group 8 with two victories, the latest by a 2-0 scoreline against Georgia. At the same time, the Republic of Ireland earned a valuable 0-0 draw away in Montenegro.
Finally, in Group 9, the Netherlands recovered from a shaky start in Macedonia to come away with a 2-1 success, their goals coming from John Heitinga and Rafael van der Vaart. Meanwhile, Scotland rebounded from their defeat on Saturday to claim a 2-1 victory in Iceland.
36 - The number of years that Luxembourg have waited to get back to winning ways in FIFA World Cup qualifying. Before tonight, their last win was on 22 October 1972, when they beat Turkey 2-0. Wednesday's victory in Switzerland is only their third in 105 qualifiers.
Goal of the day
Lithuania 2-0 Austria
Tomas Danilevicius 58
Meeting a right-wing cross from Deividas Cesnaukis, Tomas Danilevicius popped up at the near post to score with an incredible flying backheel on the turn, leaving the Austrian goalkeeper rooted to the spot. The strike handed a second win in two matches to previously unfancied Lithuania.
Quote of the day
"Can you repeat that a bit louder?" Raymond Domenech, France head coach, picking up on a journalist's remark that his changes played a decisive role in his side's victory
Have your say
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