Posted: Tuesday October 16, 2012 5:21PM ; Updated: Tuesday October 16, 2012 5:57PM

France ties Spain; Sweden erases 4-goal deficit to draw Germany

Story Highlights

France's Olivier Giroud's late goal ended Spain's run of 24 straight qualifying wins

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden came back from 4-0 down to draw Germany 4-4

Italy, without Gianluigi Buffon, beat Denmark 3-1 despite falling down to 10 men

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Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud celebrates a last-minute equalizer for France in Madrid.
Felix Ordonez/Reuters

MADRID (AP) -- Spain's record of 24 straight qualifying wins ended Tuesday when France substitute Olivier Giroud scored in the final move of the match for a deserved 1-1 draw in the campaign to reach the 2014 World Cup.

Spain reserve Juanfran Torres turned the ball over in midfield, allowing Franck Ribery to cross for Giroud to head beyond goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the fourth minute of added time in the Group I match at Vicente Calderon stadium.

Spain led through Sergio Ramos' 25th-minute header, and was on the verge of being 2-0 up in the 41st but goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved Cesc Fabregas' penalty.

Led by Karim Benzema, France created multiple opportunities on the break to make up for its poor effort against Spain in a 2-0 quarterfinal loss at the 2012 European Championship.

Germany 4, Sweden 4

BERLIN (AP) -- Sweden staged an amazing comeback to earn a draw with Germany, scoring four goals in the final half-hour in their World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday.

Miroslav Klose scored two early goals and Germany dominated for an hour before Sweden came back from a four-goal deficit.

The draw left Germany with three wins and a draw in Group C. Sweden has two wins and one draw, with a game in hand.

Klose scored in the eighth and in the 15th minute, Mesut Oezil added another in the 38th and Per Mertesacker made it 4-0 in the 39th.

But Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mikael Lustig, and Johan Elmander scored in the second half, before Rasmus Elm snatched the point with a goal two minutes into injury time.

Italy 3, Denmark 1

MILAN (AP) -- Mario Balotelli helped 10-man Italy to a victory over Denmark in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday on his return to the national team.

Balotelli was in inspirational form as he created Riccardo Montolivo's opener as well as scoring Italy's final goal early in the second half.

Daniele De Rossi hit his third goal in four games in the 37th minute, while William Kvist pulled one back for Denmark in first-half stoppage time.

Italy forward Pablo Osvaldo was sent off 16 seconds into the second half for a reckless elbow into Denmark midfielder Nicolai Stokholm's face.

Italy is top of Group B with 10 points from four games.

The Azzurri were boosted by the return of Balotelli for his first international since the Euro 2012 final loss to Spain.

Portugal 1, Northern Ireland 1

PORTO, Portugal (AP) -- A late equalizer by Helder Postiga earned Portugal a 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifying game Tuesday, sparing the home team's blushes as Cristiano Ronaldo racked up his 100th international appearance.

Postiga rescued his team in the 79th, tapping in from short range just as the Portuguese were poised to record their second defeat in a row following last week's 1-0 loss in Russia.

Niall McGinn put Northern Ireland ahead from a counterattack on the half-hour, and the visitors looked likely to upset its more celebrated opponent.

Ronaldo, who became only the third Portuguese player to collect 100 caps and is the youngest to reach that milestone, had few chances in a match in which the Euro 2012 semifinalist was again uninspired in attack.

Netherlands 4, Romania 1

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- High-scoring Netherlands took control of its World Cup qualifying group by beating main rival Romania on Tuesday to maintain its perfect record after four games.

Jeremaine Lens opened the scoring in the ninth minute after goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu punched a ball into his path for an easy header into an empty net, while Bruno Martins Indi added the second with a shot from six meters in the 29th.

Schalke 04 striker Ciprian Marica pulled one back for Romania in the 39th after dribbling past three players and shooting past Maarten Stekelenburg from about 18 meters.

But the Dutch kept attacking and Rafael van der Vaart made it 3-1 with a penalty in first-half injury time, while Manchester United striker Robin van Persie added the fourth in the 86th.

Romania had also won its first three games and is second in Group D on nine points.

Belgium 2, Scotland 0

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Premier League players Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany led Belgium to a victory over Scotland on Wednesday and a share of the lead in World Cup Group A.

Aston Villa's Benteke scored with a header for the second game in a row to break open a tight match in the 70th minute and Manchester City defender Kompany added an insurance goal with a brilliant individual effort two minutes later.

The result left the Red Devils with 10 points from four games and the Group A lead together with Croatia. The closest challengers, Macedonia and Serbia are already six points back.

Greece 1, Slovakia 0

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) -- Dimitrios Salpingidis struck in the second half to lead Greece to a 1-0 victory over Slovakia in a 2014 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Salpingidis capitalized on a defensive blunder by the hosts to score the winner from close range in the 63rd minute at a time when Slovakia was putting the visitors under pressure.

Greece has 10 points from four matches and leads Group G together with Bosnia-Herzegovina, which beat Lithuania 3-0 in another qualifier on Tuesday. Slovakia is three points behind.

Slovakia captain Marek Hamsik came close several times but wasted his chances and Michal Braznanik hit the post of Orestis-Spyridon Karnezis' goal two minutes from time when the hosts were desperately seeking an equalizer.

Greece travels next to Bosnia-Herzegovina while Slovakia hosts Lithuania on March 22.

Bulgaria 0, Czech Republic 0

PRAGUE (AP) -The Czech Republic was held to a draw by visiting Bulgaria in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

It was for the first time Bulgaria had gained a point against the Czechs in four matches.

Bulgaria has six points from four matches in Group B, while the Czechs have five points after three games.

The hosts were badly missing the creativity of injured captain Tomas Rosicky and were regularly unable to pierce Bulgaria's tight defense.

Tomas Sivok and Petr Jiracek wasted scoring opportunities for the Czechs, both missing the goal with headers from close range.

At the other end, Nikolay Bodurov headed just wide just before the break and Georgi Milanov missed a second-half chance.

The Czechs next host Denmark and Bulgaria plays Malta on March 22.

Hungary 3, Turkey 1

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- Hungary came from behind to defeat Turkey 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday after goals from Vladimir Koman, Adam Szalai and Zoltan Gera.

Turkey scored first when Mevlut Erdinc slid the ball into the net after a pass from the left flank by Caner Erkin in 22nd minute.

The setback seemed to revive the Hungarian team, which leveled in the 31st when what looked like a centering pass from Koman took a strange bounce to catch goalkeeper Volkan Demirel off guard and ended up in goal.

Szalai then made it 2-1 in the 50th. Gera scored in the 57th from a penalty after Szalai had been brought down by Hamit Altintop.

Hungary and Romania both have nine points in Group D, three behind the Netherlands.

Montenegro 1, Ukraine 0

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Dejan Damjanovic's point-blank goal late in the first half gave Montenegro a 1-0 victory over Ukraine in a 2014 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Montenegro midfielder Elsad Zverotic intercepted a sleepy pass along the right wing and crossed it to Damjanovic who fluently struck from the central box past goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov in the 45th minute.

Captain Stevan Jovetic failed to double the lead when Pyatov guessed right with a diving save to block a penalty in the 80th minute.

Ukraine had more chances on goal in the first half but couldn't capitalize in a testy first half that saw both sides probe each other along the wings.

Montenegro is now level with England atop Group H with 7 points. Ukraine has two.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
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