World Cup Qualifiers: Ukraine’s win keeps dream alive and puts Poland out of the picture

 

Ukraine kept up the pressure on England at the top of Group H but also ensured Roy Hodgson’s side will face an eliminated team on Tuesday when they beat Poland 1-0 in Kiev last night.

The Ukrainians looked nervous in the first half with the visitors missing two good chances but settled when Andrei Yarmolenko gave them the lead in the 64th minute. The Dynamo Kiev striker was picked out in the penalty area by Yevhen Konoplyanka before curling the ball into the top corner of the net.

However, Ukraine rode their luck 10 minutes from the end when Robert Lewandowski, who had a shot cleared off the line earlier, headed over from close range.

Mesut Özil got on the scoresheet as Germany confirmed their place in Brazil next year with a 3-0 victory over managerless Republic of Ireland in Cologne.

The Arsenal midfielder struck two minutes into stoppage time at the Rhein Energie Stadium after Sami Khedira and André Schürrle had scored either side of the break to finally kill off caretaker manager Noel King’s stubborn and much-changed Irish side, who hit the bar through Ciaran Clark at 1-0.

Özil’s late contribution was harsh on Republic goalkeeper David Forde, who had to pull off a string of fine saves, the best of them from Schürrle and Thomas Müller.

Wales looked to have earned some breathing space for under-pressure manager Chris Coleman as they moved off the bottom of Group A with a 1-0 victory over Macedonia in Cardiff.

The Welsh, missing 11 players from Coleman’s initial squad selection, ground out a first win in five games thanks to Simon Church’s close-range finish in the 67th minute, before the otherwise excellent Aaron Ramsey failed to convert a penalty.

Goran Pandev and Nikolce Noveski spurned two excellent chances for the visitors, but they could not find an equaliser and deny Craig Bellamy  victory in his final home game in a red shirt.

Belgium reached their first World Cup finals since 2002 after on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku scored two superb individual first-half goals to earn a 2-1 victory in Croatia.

Lukaku, who was replacing Aston Villa’s injured Christian Benteke, struck in the 15th and 38th minutes in Zagreb. For the first Steven Defour fed the striker and he raced clear of centre backs Vedran Corluka and Dejan Lovren before rounding keeper Stipe Pletikosa. The second was even better,  having chipped the ball over Lovren inside his own half, Lukaku galloped past midfielder Mateo Kovacic, rounded the advancing Pletikosa and walked the ball into an empty net.

Switzerland also booked their place in Brazil with a 2-0 win in Albania, Granit Xhaka  and Michael Lang getting the goals for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side. Bosnia are on the brink of their first World Cup finals, Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko scoring twice in a 4-1 home victory over Liechtenstein that means a win in Lithuania on Tuesday will secure qualification.

Robin van Persie became the Netherlands’ all-time top scorer when the Manchester United striker got a hat-trick in the 8-1 thrashing of Hungary in Amsterdam. Van Persie now has 41 international goals, one more than Patrick Kluivert.

Nicklas Bendtner struck twice for Denmark but his goals were not enough to beat already-qualified Italy, who snatched a point from a 2-2 draw with Alberto Aquilani’s injury-time equaliser. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late winner secured a play-off place for Sweden as they beat Austria 2-1 in Stockholm, while Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema finally ended his long scoring drought for France in their 6-0 friendly win over Australia.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'