herald

Monday 23 April 2018

Croats and Greece in Brazil pot

CROATIA qualified for Brazil 2014 after they won 2-0 on aggregate (and on the night) despite playing most of their home leg against Iceland with 10 men after Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring midway through the first half only to be sent off for a studs-up tackle soon after.

Kostas Mitroglou again shone to help Greece, European champions in 2004, after his composed early finish in a 1-1 draw in Romania set up a 4-2 aggregate victory following his two goals in the first leg.

Ghana, who had a five-goal lead going into their second leg, secured a third straight World Cup finals appearance despite a 2-1 defeat by Egypt in an African playoff in strife-torn Cairo.

The Ghanaians went through 7-3 on aggregate.

Egypt have now failed to reach the World Cup since their last appearance in 1990 despite winning an unmatched four African Nations Cup titles during that time.

Algeria beat Burkina Faso on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw and 1-0 home win in the second leg, Madjid Bougherra scoring with a fluke goal when the ball deflected in off his head following Bakary Kone's attempted clearance.

 

QUALIFIED

Ghana and Algeria join fellow Africans Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast in the finals after they qualified at the weekend.

The two remaining spots in Brazil will be decided today when Mexico visit New Zealand with a 5-1 advantage from the first leg of their intercontinental playoff and Uruguay host Jordan 5-0 up from the Amman encounter.

Qualifiers Spain and the United States suffered blows in friendlies, the world champions beaten 1-0 by eliminated South Africa on the Soccer City pitch where they clinched their 2010 crown and the Americans losing 1-0 away to lowly Austria.

"I think we can even say the defeat was well deserved," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.

"We started well but little by little they started to open us up and we allowed them time to counter attack."

In friendlies among 2014 finalists, the Netherlands drew 0-0 with Colombia and much-hyped Belgium went down 3-2 at home to Japan.

Ange Postecoglou enjoyed a winning start as Australia coach with a 1-0 triumph over Costa Rica and Russia saw off South Korea 2-1 in another friendly in Dubai.

In a landmark friendly, Gibraltar drew 0-0 with Slovakia in Portugal last night in their first match since being admitted to UEFA.

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