Skip to main content

Shock draw dents Spain's World Cup qualification hopes

March 23, 2013 -- Updated 0016 GMT (0816 HKT)
Spain's players show their disappointment after conceding a late equalizer at home to Finland in a World Cup qualifier in Gijon.
Spain's players show their disappointment after conceding a late equalizer at home to Finland in a World Cup qualifier in Gijon.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spain battling to automatically qualify for 2014 World Cup after Finland draw
  • Trip to Paris could prove vital as France move two points clear in Group I
  • Croatia wins grudge match against Serbia to boost qualification hopes
  • Germany and the Netherlands remain unbeaten at top of respective groups

(CNN) -- Finland ruined Sergio Ramos' 100th appearance for Spain on Friday as the planet's 87th-ranked team held the No. 1 side and defending World Cup champion in a qualifier for next year's tournament in Brazil.

Real Madrid defender Ramos became the eighth player from his country to reach the milestone, and duly put his side ahead with a header from a corner four minutes into the second half in Gijon.

Finland's dogged defending had frustrated Spain's intricate passing game, and the visiting side scored a shock equalizer in the 79th minute as Teemu Pukki got behind the defense to slot in Alexander Ring's low cross.

Boateng: Racism in football must end
What does David Beckham give to PSG?
CNN FC: PSG's gamble on David Beckham

The draw extended Spain's unbeaten run to 19 matches, but left Vicente del Bosque's team second in Group I behind France ahead of Tuesday's trip to Paris.

Read: Boateng - Give refs more power to stop racism

Only the top nation will automatically qualify from the five-side group, with the runner-up hoping to go into the playoffs.

"We controlled the match but it slipped away in the final minutes," Ramos told reporters.

"Doubtless we were thinking too much about France -- now we really do have to think about that one. They are a great team, but we can beat them."

The French won 3-1 at home to third-placed Georgia to go two points clear of Spain after four matches, with goals from striker Olivier Giroud and midfielders Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery.

The Finns remained bottom, with two points from three games.

In Group A, Croatia all but ended the qualification hopes of neighbor Serbia with a 2-0 victory in the first clash between the two teams since they became independent nations after the war that split Yugoslavia.

With away fans banned in Zagreb due to ongoing tensions, Mario Mandzukic took advantage of a mistake by Aleksandar Kolarov to score the opening goal and fellow striker Ivica Olic sealed Croatia's fourth win in five matches.

Read: Healing the wounds of war

Keepy up challenge: Becker vs. Mendieta
Becker: Ronaldo the tennis ace?

It put the Croats second on goal difference behind Belgium, while Wales moved above Serbia into third place with a 2-1 win over Scotland.

Belgium won 2-0 away to Macedonia, with Eden Hazard's second-half penalty adding to Kevin De Bruyne's opener.

Bulgaria consolidated second place in Group B with a 6-0 thrashing of Malta, as Aleksandar Tonev scored a hat-trick, while Denmark won 3-0 away to the Czech Republic to claim third place on goal difference -- but four points adrift of a possible playoff spot.

Germany moved five points clear at the top of Group C with a 3-0 win over Kazakhstan, while second-placed Sweden drew 0-0 at home to the Republic of Ireland.

Austria moved above the Irish into third on goal difference after thrashing bottom side the Faroe Islands 6-0.

The Netherlands marched to a fifth successive win in Group D, beating Estonia 3-0.

Hungary remained second on goal difference above Romania after conceding a late equalizer in their 2-2 draw -- a result which left both nations five points behind the Dutch.

Is there a crisis in English football?
Join the CNN Football Club

Turkey beat bottom side Andorra to be four points further back in fourth place.

Switzerland stayed top in Group E without kicking a ball, as Albania moved up to second on goal difference above Iceland after their respective one-goal wins away to Norway and Slovenia.

Portugal's hopes of automatic qualification from Group F suffered a big blow as Cristiano Ronaldo's team needed late goals from Helder Postiga and Fabio Coentrao to draw 3-3 in Israel.

The result left Israel second above the Portuguese on goal difference, with both teams four points adrift of Russia -- whose match in Northern Ireland was postponed until Saturday due to heavy snow.

Bosnia-Herzegovina moved three points clear of Greece at the top of Group G after winning 3-1 against the previously undefeated 2004 European champions, with two goals from striker Edin Dzeko.

Third-placed Slovakia's hopes of a second successive World Cup appearance were dented by a 1-1 draw with Lithuania.

Montenegro and England set up a crunch Group H clash on Tuesday after contrasting wins.

A 1-0 victory in Moldova put Montenegro two points clear at the top, as both teams had a player sent off and striker Mirko Vucinic netted the only goal in the 79th minute.

England thrashed San Marino 8-0 as striker Jermain Defoe scored twice, while Ukraine moved up to third on goal difference above Poland with a 3-1 away victory in a match between the Euro 2012 host nations.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT