Germany, France record victories

LONDON: Germany beat Azerbaijan 2-0 to move four points ahead in the World Cup qualifying, while France laboured to a 1-0 win over the Faeroe Islands.

Goals by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose in Baku gave the Germans three points and they now have 19 from seven games, with second-place Russia on 15 from six. Andre-Pierre Gignac scored France’s lone goal after 42 minutes against last-place Faeroe Islands in Group 7 in Torshavn. Despite the three points, Raymond Domenech’s team is still five points behind Serbia with a game in hand.

Two goals by Ivica Olic helped Croatia win 3-1 away to Belarus to strengthen their hold on second place behind England in Group 6. The Croats are still seven points behind the leader, however, and a loss at Wembley on September 9 will mean that England will qualify as group winner and Croatia will be chasing a playoff spot.

Morten Gamst Pedersen scored twice as Norway beat 10-man Scotland in a 4-0 victory that improved their chances of capturing a playoff spot behind Group 9 winner Netherlands, who are already qualified.

Robert Koren scored twice as Slovenia beat San Marino 5-0 to climb two places to third in a wide open Group 3.

In Caribbean, Central and North American qualifying, Mexico, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago picked up key victories, tightening the CONCACAF race. Costa Rica lead with 12 points followed by the United States and Honduras on 10. Mexico defeated the US 2-1, with substitute Miguel Sabah scoring the winner in the 82nd minute. The US scored first in the ninth minute but the advantage lasted only 10 minutes as Israel Castro found the equaliser. In Trinidad, Cornell Glen’s seventh minute goal earned Trinidad and Tobago a 1-0 win over El Salvador. Honduras beat Costa Rica 4-0 with Carlo Costly scoring twice.

In friendlies, European champions Spain hit back from two goals down to beat Macedonia 3-2, England rallied from 2-0 behind to draw 2-2 with the Netherlands, Argentina beat Russia 3-2 in Moscow, Brazil captured a 1-0 victory over Estonia and Australia beat Ireland 3-0. Portugal outplayed Liechtenstein 3-0 despite the absence of flu victim Cristiano Ronaldo but Italy were held 0-0 by Switzerland in Basel, their third game in a row without scoring.