WC qualifying: Russia blanks Portugal; Spain, Italy win
MOSCOW (AP) -- Alexander Kerzhakov scored early in the first half to give Russia a 1-0 win over Portugal in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on Friday.
The Zenit St. Petersburg striker scored with low shot past diving goalkeeper Rui Patricio six minutes into the game from a Roman Shirokov cross.
It was Russia's only shot on goal in the first half. Portugal dominated possession for the rest of the match but failed to score.
The victory put Russia on top of the Group F standings with nine points from three games. Portugal is second with six points.
Russia next hosts Azerbaijan while Portugal will be at home against Northern Ireland on Tuesday. Israel and Luxemburg are also in the group.
WEMBLEY, England (AP) -- Captain Wayne Rooney scored twice as England beat an ultra-defensive San Marino in World Cup qualifying on Friday, with a late flurry of goals against the world's joint-lowest ranked team on a frustrating night for the hosts.
Rooney's goals lifted him to fifth on England's goal scoring leaderboard, overtaking Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer.
Rooney's Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck also scored in each half, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the rout.
MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- Pedro Rodriguez scored three goals and set up another to give Spain a victory at Belarus on Friday, as the world champions won their 24th straight qualifying match ahead of their critical clash with France.
Left back Jordi Alba got Spain rolling 12 minutes in from a pass by Pedro, who then doubled the visitors' lead at Dinamo stadium in the 21st.
The in-form Barcelona forward added two more goals in the 69th and 72nd to seal the comfortable win.
Spain now awaits France on Tuesday in a match that could be key to determining which side finishes top of the group and with automatic qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Also in Group I, Georgia drew 1-1 at Finland on Friday.
DUBLIN (AP) -- Marco Reus scored two first-half goals and Germany poured in four more after the break to sweep aside Ireland Friday in a World Cup qualifier.
The Borussia Dortmund winger put the visitors in control by scoring in the 32nd and 40th minutes to silence the crowd at Dublin's sold-out Aviva Stadium.
Germany then turned it into a rout in the second half, with Toni Kroos also scoring twice. Andy Keogh's injury-time header from a corner provided Ireland's lone score.
Ireland was without a half-dozen injured starters including striker Robbie Keane, and barely tested goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as it struggled for possession against the faster, better-organized Germans.
The lopsided loss heaped pressure on Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who has faced rising criticism following his squad's wretched performance at the European Championship this summer.
The win put Germany atop Group C with nine points from three matches. Ireland remained third.
YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) -- Italy veteran Andrea Pirlo scored one goal and created another as the Azzurri labored to a win over Armenia in World Cup qualifying Friday.
Pirlo fired Italy ahead in the 11th minute from the penalty spot following Hrayr Mkoyan's handball. But Armenia leveled in the 28th through Shakhtar Donetsk's impressive Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Daniele De Rossi headed Italy back in front shortly after the hour mark before Pablo Osvaldo sealed the result with his third goal in as many qualifiers.
It is Italy's 33rd match without defeat in World Cup and European Championship qualifying matches.
Italy was without Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who - although initially included in the starting lineup Thursday - had not recovered from flu in time. He was replaced by Juventus forward Sebastian Giovinco.
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- A lackluster Netherlands beat Andorra Friday to preserve its perfect record after three qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.
Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored before the break and debutant Ruben Schaken added the third early in the second half as the 2010 World Cup runner-up struggled to break down the defense of 201st-ranked Andorra.
Romania beat Turkey 1-0 in Istanbul earlier Friday to make it three wins out of three in Group D qualifiers. Romania plays the Netherlands on Tuesday in a match between the two teams with perfect records in the group.
Coach Louis van Gaal gave Feyenoord winger Schaken a debut at age 30 and left Robin van Persie on the bench to rest the Manchester United striker for the Romania match.
TORSHAVN, Faeroe Islands (AP) -- Sweden avoided a major upset after second-half goals by Alexander Kacaniklic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped it come from behind for a win over the Faeroe Islands on Friday in a World Cup qualifier.
After a sluggish performance by the Swedes in a goalless first half, Rogvi Baldvinsson stunned the visitors by opening the scoring with a powerful low shot in the 57th minute.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren responded by putting on Kacaniklic, and the Fulham winger equalized in the 65th before Ibrahimovic finally put the heavily favored visitors ahead in the 75th.
The Swedes looked surprised and unsettled by the way the hosts refused to back down, and seemed content with running out the clock after going ahead.
Sweden has six points after two games, while it was the Faeroes' second loss.
BERN, Switzerland (AP) -- Switzerland was held at home by Norway in a World Cup qualifier on Friday and had its lead in Group E cut to one point.
Substitute Mario Gavranovic gave Switzerland a 79th-minute lead with a close-range finish from a corner. But Norway equalized two minutes later when defender Brede Hangeland surged to beat goalkeeper Diego Benaglio with a near-post header.
Norway midfielder Tarik El Younoussi's shot struck a post in the 90th minute.
Switzerland hit the same post in the 25th from Tranquillo Barnetta's header.
Norway also created its best early chances in the air, and Benaglio denied Hangeland and Vegard Forren in quick succession.
Switzerland has seven points from three matches, and plays Tuesday away to second-place Iceland which has six points after winning 2-1 in Albania.
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) -- Belgium lived up to its reputation as a legitimate contender to reach the 2014 World Cup by beating Serbia in a qualifier Friday to take the lead in Group A.
Belgium took the lead against the run of play in the 34th minute on a header by Christian Benteke after a cross by Kevin De Bruyne.
De Bruyne added the second for Belgium in the 68th on a counter attack and Kevin Mirallas netted the third in the 88th with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Serbia had most of the chances in the first half, with Zoran Tosic hitting the post in the second minute. Defender Milan Bisevac's volley went over the bar 30 minutes later.
But after taking the lead, the Belgians controlled the play on the rain-drenched pitch at the Red Star Stadium in the second half as the Serbs desperately looked for an equalizer.
Belgium substitute Eden Hazard missed a chance in the 52nd when he was put through on goal, and Dries Mertens squandered a good opportunity in the 58th.
"We were punished for the misses in the first half,'' Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said. "But, there are seven more games to be played in the group and anything is possible.''
PLZEN, Czech Republic (AP) -- Defender Theodor Gebre Selassie became the first Czech to score in four matches in a victory over Malta in the 2014 World Cup qualifier on Friday.
Gebre Selassie headed in his first international goal in the 34th minute.
Roderick Briffa stunned the Czechs by erasing the deficit four minutes later with a clinical finish from the edge of the area before striker Tomas Pekhart put the hosts ahead again seven minutes into the second half with another header for his first international goal.
Jan Rezek put the result beyond doubt with a low shot in the 67th.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech saved a penalty in the final minute.
The Czech Republic has four points from two matches in Group B while Malta is without a point.
The Czechs next play Bulgaria on Tuesday.
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) -- Ten-man Bulgaria was held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Denmark in their qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup on Friday.
Dimitar Rangelov put Bulgaria ahead in the seventh minute, heading the ball past goalkeeper Stephan Andersen after a cross from Ivan Bandalovski.
The home team kept pressing in an attempt to extend its advantage, but was seriously weakened when right back Ivan Bandalovski was shown a straight red card in the 25th minute for a professional foul.
The equalizer came in the 40th minute, when Nicklas Bendtner took a pass from Michael Krohn-Dehli and found the back of the net with a header from inside the box.
Bulgaria is second in Group B with five points, two behind group leader Italy. Denmark has two points in two games.
ISTANBUL (AP) -- Romania has won its third consecutive World Cup qualifier with a victory over Turkey in Istanbul on Friday.
Gheorghe Grozav scored from outside the penalty area to put Romania ahead in the 45th minute.
Turkey failed to find an equalizer in the second half and now looks set to miss out on a playoff spot from Group D that also includes the Netherlands, Hungary, Estonia and Andorra.
HOUSTON (AP) -- Javier Hernandez scored a goal after Andres Guardado and Oribe Peralta finally got Mexico going with two late goals on the way to a 5-0 rout of Guyana in a World Cup qualifier played at a neutral site.
Guyana defender Charles Pollard knocked in an own-goal in the 83rd minute and Javier Hernandez headed one in less than two minutes later to add to the goal fiesta at BBVACompass Stadium, home to the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.
Angel Reyna capped the scoring a minute after Chicharito, with a 25-yard blast for El Tri, who are already assured a spot in the final round of qualifying for the CONCACAF region and remained perfect in group play with a game to go.
TORONTO (AP) -- Canada beat undermanned Cuba 3-0 Friday night to remain on course in World Cup qualifying.
The Cubans, who have lost all five games in the CONCACAF semifinal round, dressed just 11 players, while down the field, Canada (3-1-1) had 10 substitutes on the bench.
And Cuba was down to 10 in the 70th minute after striker Roberto Linares was ejected for a challenge that crumpled Canada captain Kevin McKenna.
Three minutes later, Canadian striker Olivier Occean was sent off for a melee after Will Johnson's header made it 2-0.
Tosaint Ricketts scored for Canada in the 14th minute. And until Johnson's goal padded the lead, the Cubans were one kick away from evening the score and silencing the enthusiastic crowd of 17,712.
David Edgar made it 3-0 in the 78th minute.
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Carlos Ruiz scored in the 85th minute to give Guatemala a 2-1 win over Jamaica on Friday night in a World Cup qualifier.
Luton Shelton converted a 61st-minute penalty to tie it for Jamaica after Carlos Figueroa scored in the 15th to put Guatemala up 1-0.
Guatemala tied the United States atop Group A in the semifinal round of qualifying from North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Both teams have 10 points and can advance if they draw with each other on Tuesday night in Kansas City, Kan.
Jamaica has seven points, and needs to beat Antigua and Barbuda and then hope to win a tiebreaker, probably goal differential, with the US or Guatemala on goal differential to advance to the final round of qualifying. Jamaica is even on goal differential, while the Americans and Guatemalans are each at plus-3.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The wait for a David Price trade alters the entire pitching market
Phillips: Outfielders are on the move at MLB winter meetings