WORLD CUP REPORT: Europe – Group B

Europe GroupB

groupBtable

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Armenia 0

Czech Republic 3 (Vydra 47, 81, Kolar 90)

A double from Matěj Vydra and one from Daniel Kolář earned the Czechs a 3-0 win in Armenia. Vardan Minasyan’s Armenia side had started brightly, however, and gave goalkeeper Petr Čech (in his 100th appearance) a testing time on the occasion of his milestone cap. Yura Movsisyan had the best chance to break the deadlock in the first half, but was denied by the Chelsea ‘keeper from close range. Marcos Pizzelli was next to check the 30-year-old’s reflexes and Čech made another spectacular stop to keep out the playmaker’s powerful shot from 18 metres.

Vydra opened his account for his country two minutes after half-time and doubled the visitors’ tally in Yerevan with nine minutes remaining. Michal Bílek’s team, defeated 3-0 at home by Denmark on Friday, wrapped up a comfortable triumph – only their second in Group B – thanks to Kolář’s effort in added time. Armenia pushed for a consolation but ultimately had their wounds salted by a rapid run and finish from substitute Kolář in the fourth additional minute.

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Denmark 1 (Agger 63P)

Bulgaria 1 (Manolev 51)

Denmark earned a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria courtesy of a Daniel Agger 63rd minute penalty. Christian Eriksen and Andreas Cornelius had early chances for the hosts, while Veselin Minev put the ball wide for Bulgaria. However, neither side were able to find the back of the net in the first half, despite attacking displays by both teams. The visitors broke the deadlock shortly after the restart, as Fulham’s on-loan full-back Stanislav Manolev blasted the ball into the back of the net.

However, Denmark had the chance to equalise 10 minutes later, when Iliya Milanov fouled Cornelius in the penalty box, forcing the referee to award a spot kick. Daniel Agger took the penalty, striking the ball right to beat Nikolay Nihaylov in the Bulgaria goal. The home side pushed hard to find a winner towards the end of the match, with Agger, Niki Zimling and Simon Kjaer among those with attempts at goal, but neither side could add to the score.

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Malta 0

Italy 2 (Balotelli 8P, 45)

Mario Balotelli scored both goals as Italy moved three points clear at the top of World Cup qualifying Group B with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Malta at the Ta’ Qali Stadium on Tuesday evening. The enigmatic forward opened the scoring from the spot just seven minutes in after AC Milan team-mate Stephan El Shaarawy had been sent tumbling in the area.  Malta could have responded in kind but Michael Mifsud saw his penalty well saved by Gianluigi Buffon, who had felled Andre Schembri in the area, and it proved a costly miss as Balotelli struck again right on the stroke of half-time to break the hosts’ game resistance.

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WillBurns

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