Shocks were thin on the ground on Matchday 3 of the European qualifying competition for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, as the favourites flexed their muscles. England, Spain and Greece are the only three sides to have won three out of three.
This Group 4 encounter between the UEFA EURO 2008 runners-up and one of the semi-finalists promised much. The Germans made their customary fast start, with Lukas Podolski opening the scoring early on and Michael Ballack doubling their advantage before the half-hour mark. The Russians never stopped running, however, and worked their way back into the game after the restart. It was Andrei Arshavin, somewhat inevitably, who reduced the arrears before Guus Hiddink's side laid siege to the German goal. But Rene Adler, the major success story for the hosts, was in inspired form in goal and made sure the Mannschaft clung on to the points.
Surprise of the day
Faroe Islands 1-1 Austria
Goals: Bogi Lokin 47 (Faroe Islands); Martin Stranzl 49 (Austria)
After overcoming France 3-1 in their first match in Group 7, the Austrians failed to overcome the side who famously beat them when they met back in 1990. The islanders were entertaining hopes of repeating that win when Bogi Lokin put them ahead at the start of the second half. The visitors hit back quickly, however, but could not prevent the Faroes from picking up their first point in the group.
The other games
Denmark lead the way in Group 1 after Portugal and Sweden drew a blank in Solna.
Greece put three goals past Moldova without reply, two of them coming from Angelos Charisteas. With nine points out of nine, the Greeks lead Group 2 ahead of Israel and Switzerland.
Poland and Slovenia are out front in Group 3. Missing three key midfielders, Czech Republic went down 2-1 away to the Poles and now find themselves six points behind the leading duo.
Andrei Arshavin scored once and almost grabbed an equaliser for Russia away to Germany, but it is Joachim Low's men who sit atop Group 4 after their 2-1 win. Finland beat Azerbaijan to stay in touch with the leaders.
Spain continued their serene progress in Group 5 with a routine 3-0 triumph in Estonia. The European champions have now gone 38 matches without defeat in FIFA World Cup qualifying matches and have yet to concede in this latest campaign, while scoring eight. Turkey and Belgium both won, however, to keep up the pressure on the leaders.
In Group 6, England thrashed Kazakhstan 5-1 to open up a five-point lead over Croatia, who played out a goalless draw with Ukraine. Fabio Capello's men have a 100 per cent record so far and scored their 200th FIFA World Cup qualifying goal when Alexandr Kuchma put through his own goal.
Lithuania came back down to earth, losing 3-0 in Serbia, but still lead the way in a wide-open Group 7, where five sides are in contention for first place. France were on the brink against Romania but fought back for a 2-2 draw.
Italy were content to come away from Bulgaria with a draw and stay in pole position in Group 8 on seven points, three clear of Republic of Ireland.
And in Group 9 Scotland shared the spoils with Norway in a disappointing 0-0 draw, a result that allowed the Netherlands, easy 2-0 victors against Iceland, to move two points in front with a game in hand.
7 - The number of years Israel have now gone unbeaten away from home in FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The last time the Israelis lost on their travels was back in March 2001, when they went down 2-1 to Austria.
The Bordeaux playmaker made the most of his latest international outing, putting France back on level terms with a 25-yard drive that caught out an otherwise-inspired Bogdan Lobont in the Romania goal.
What they said
"There wasn't much we could do against one of the best teams in the world. I thought we put up a pretty good fight and despite the defeat we can be proud of ourselves," Estonia coach Tarmo Ruutli gives his thoughts after seeing his side lose 3-0 to Spain.
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