World Cup qualifying: Italy held to draw by Bulgaria
SOFIA (AP) -- European Championship runner-up Italy was held to a 2-2 draw by Bulgaria in its opening World Cup qualifier Friday despite two goals from Pablo Osvaldo.
A rare mistake by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon allowed Stanislav Manolev to put Bulgaria in front on the half-hour mark, not long after the Italian had pulled off a stunning stop.
However, Osvaldo scored his first international goals to give Italy a 2-1 halftime lead. Georgi Milanov leveled for Bulgaria in the 66th minute, however.
Italy created few chances and showed little of the form that took it to the Euro 2012 final in July. Italy has never won in Sofia, losing twice and drawing three times.
Armenia tops Group B after beating Malta 1-0 earlier in the day.
Italy plays Malta in Modena on Tuesday.
CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) -- Frank Lampard scored twice as England relied on a dominant first-half showing against Moldova to open its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with a win Friday.
Jermain Defoe grabbed England's other goal before the break in Chisinau, with James Milner and Leighton Baines netting in the last 16 minutes in a comprehensive Group H victory over its 141st-ranked opponents.
Playing on an uneven surface, Lampard settled any early nerves by burying a third-minute penalty low into the corner after Tom Cleverley's shot struck the arm of Simion Bulgaru in the area.
The Chelsea midfielder doubled the lead with a close-range header in the 32nd.
England should have it much tougher against Ukraine on Tuesday.
AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Robin van Persie grabbed his 30th international goal and Luciano Narsingh scored his second to give an inexperienced Netherlands team a 2-0 win over Turkey in their opening World Cup qualifier Friday.
Van Persie, who scored four times in his last two matches for Manchester United, gave the Netherlands the lead in the 17th minute from Wesley Sneijder's corner, rising between three Turkey defenders to send a glancing header into the far corner. Narsingh rounded off a quick break to add the second in injury time.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal picked a revamped back four that featured three players with a total of seven caps between them and a goalkeeper, Newcastle's Tim Krul, with only three international appearances.
HANNOVER, Germany (AP) -- Mesut Oezil scored two second-half goals to help Germany make a winning start in its World Cup qualifying campaign with a victory over Faeroe Islands on Friday.
The Germans labored against an opponent that kept most of its men behind the ball for the majority of the Group C match.
Mario Goetze opened the scoring in the 28th minute and Oezil added goals in the 54th and 72nd for the European Championship semifinalist.
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- A header by Nikica Jelavic gave Croatia a victory over Macedonia on Friday and a winning start in the World Cup qualifying campaign.
Croatia had several chances before substitute Jelavic scored in 63rd minute, but the hosts were far from dominating.
Captain Darijo Srna said that "it was really tough ... it has to be better.''
Croatia had a chance in the first minute when Eduardo hit the post, but Macedonia had more promising chances for the rest of the first half, and Goran Pandev hit the bar with a powerful shot from 22 meters.
Croatia improved in the second half and Jelavic scored after Marijo Madzukic assisted from the right side.
Croatia plays against Belgium in Group A on Tuesday.
RIGA, Latvia (AP) -- Greece survived a first-half scare to rally for a win over Latvia on Friday in the two teams' opening Group G qualifier for the 2014 World Cup.
A lackluster Greece trailed by a goal after a rain-soaked first half, but came out in the second half with more aggressive play. Nikos Spyropoulos equalized in the 57th minute with a shot from 10 meters (yards) out that beat Latvian goalkeeper Andris Vanins in the bottom right corner.
Fanis Gekas put the Group G favorite ahead 12 minutes later after a smart pass from Kostas Katsouranis just outside Latvia's penalty area.
Aleksandrs Cauna scored Latvia's opener on a penalty kick in the 41st minute after Aleksejs Visnakovs had been tripped by Kyriakos Papadopoulos in the area after dribbling around the Greek defender.
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) -- Romania scored twice in the second half to beat Estonia 2-0 in their opening World Cup qualifying match on Friday.
Gabriel Andrei Torje scored in the 55th minute after receiving a cross inside the penalty area and Ciprian Andrei Marica doubled the visitors' lead with a shot in the 75th.
Estonia's best chance came in the 32nd minute after a quick counterattack, but Sander Puri's shot was blocked by Romania's defenders.
On Tuesday, Turkey will host Estonia in Istanbul in Group D.
HELSINKI (AP) -- Didier Deschamps won his first competitive match as France coach on Friday, with Abou Diaby scoring in a victory over Finland to open qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Diaby shot the ball into the corner of the net past goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky in the 20th minute after Finland midfielder Alexander Ring had lost the ball, allowing France forward Karim Benzema to play it through for his teammate.
Benzema had a chance to increase the lead not long afterward, latching on to a through ball from winger Franck Ribery but shooting straight at Hradecky.
France dominated the early exchanges without creating any clear chances, with Ribery orchestrating much of the visitors' play.
On Tuesday in Group I, France hosts Belarus while Finland travels to Czech Republic for a friendly.
LUXEMBOURG (AP) -- Cristiano Ronaldo and Helder Postiga scored a goal each as Portugal rallied from a goal down to scrape a win away to Luxembourg in their opening World Cup qualifier on Friday.
Luxembourg took a shock lead in the 14th minute when Dudelingen forward Daniel Da Mota hit a powerful shot from just outside the penalty area that caught out goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
But Ronaldo equalized in the 27th when he collected the ball near the penalty spot and rifled in his 37th international goal. Ronaldo has dominated the headlines all week after speaking of "feeling sad'' because of professional reasons at Real Madrid.
Postiga then put Portugal ahead in the 54th with a shot into the bottom left corner for his 21st goal for Portugal.
PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) -- Montenegro and Poland drew in an opening qualifier for World Cup 2014 that was marked by physical play as both teams finished with 10 men.
Poland took the lead in the sixth minute when Jakub Blaszczykowski converted a penalty, only for Montenegro to equalize with a long-range shot from Nikola Drincic in the 27th, assisted by Mirko Vucinic.
Vucinic then gave Montenegro a 2-1 lead in first-half injury time, with Drincic turning provider from a corner.
Poland equalized with a header in 55th by Adrian Mierzejewski.
Montenegro midfielder Savo Pavicevic and Poland's Ludovic Obraniak then earned red cards in two separate incidents as the match turned testy over the last 20 minutes.
Montenegrin police arrested 10 Polish hooligans a day before for allegedly attacking a policeman.
Also: Argentina 3, Paraguay 1; Colombia 4, Uruguay 0; Ecuador 1, Bolivia 0; Canada 1, Panama 0; Brazil 1, South Africa 0; Mexico 2, Costa Rica 0.
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