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French player Franck Ribery (left) tries to beat the challenge from Juanfran Torres of Spain during their FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying match played at Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, central Spain, yesterday. Match ended in a 1-1 draw.
PARIS: World champions Spain and fellow European heavyweights Germany were hit late in time added on to end up with just a point apiece in their respective 2014 World Cup home qualifiers on Tuesday night.
Spain were pegged back by a goal four minutes into injury-time by Olivier Giroud as France erased memories of their limp performance in their Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat by the Spanish to force a 1-1 draw in Madrid.
Whilst Spain extended their unbeaten run in competitive matches to 25, they will rue the missed penalty by Cesc Fabregas on the stroke of half-time which would have put them 2-0 up.
However, if there is much contemplation to be done it will be by the Germans who somehow let slip a 4-0 lead over the Swedes to be rocked with four goals by their opponents in the final half hour, Rasmus Elm scoring the dramatic equaliser in the third minute of time added on.
There was to be no special celebration for Cristiano Ronaldo on his 100th appearance for Portugal as they had to rely on a 79th minute equaliser by Helder Postiga to force a 1-1 draw at home against 117th ranked Northern Ireland. Ronaldo who had started the night with a broad grin as he was presented with a special cap exited the pitch in pouring rain with a furious look on his face.
Elsewhere, 2010 World Cup finalists Holland showed that any hangover from their first round exit at Euro 2012 is firmly over as they beat Romania 4-1 away to make it four wins from four games.
Euro 2012 finalists Italy also strolled to victory, 3-1 at home to Denmark while Holland’s neighbours Belgium top their group on goal difference over Croatia after a 2-0 win over crisis-hit Scotland.
Scottish boss Craig Levein’s position looks to be increasingly untenable while his Welsh counterpart Chris Coleman too can’t be feeling too secure.
Italian veteran Giovanni Trapattoni may well survive for a bit longer as his Republic of Ireland team shook off some of the shock of their 6-1 hammering at home to Germany last Friday with a 4-1 away win over the Faroes.
Germany remain top of Group C on ten points with Sweden second in the table on seven, but with a game in hand.AFP