Spain rout Slovakia; Switzerland, Czech win

London, November 13:

Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic all moved a step closer to the World Cup with victories while Australia kept their hopes alive despite losing in the first leg of the final playoffs.

Trinidad and Tobago were held at home by Bahrain in the only drawn match so apart from Spain, who crushed 10-man Slovakia 5-1 in Madrid, the ties are all finely balanced ahead of Wednesday’s second leg matches. Luis Garcia scored a hat-trick in Spain’s emphatic win with goals after 10, 18 and 74 minutes, while Fernando Torres scored from a 65th minute penalty. Garcia’s Liverpool team mate Fernando Morientes added the fifth 11 minutes from time.

Slovakian defender Marian Had was sent off after 64 minutes for protesting the penalty and will miss the second leg when Spain look certain to qualify for their eighth successive finals since they last missed out in West Germany in 1974.

Switzerland scored a well-deserved but unexpected 2-0 win over Turkey in Berne, but now face a torrid second leg in Istanbul.

Australia, meanwhile, although beaten 1-0 by Uruguay in Montevideo were vastly improved from their 3-0 loss there in a playoff in 2001 and did enoug to suggest they could overturn the tie in Sydney next Wednesday. The Czech Republic also scored a 1-0 win over Norway on a mudheap in Oslo to move a step closer the finals, although that tie is still far from over.

Trinidad & Tobago were held to a 1-1 draw despite being the more dangerous team ahead of the second leg in Manama.

Twenty-seven nations, including hosts Germany and champions Brazil, have already qualified and the complete lineup will be finalised on Wednesday ahead of the draw for the finals which will be held in Leipzig on December 9.