Serbia 2 (Djuricic 59, 65)
Scotland’s faint hopes of qualifying for Brazil 2014 ended with a poor showing away to Serbia. The Scots defended well in a scoreless first half however when they began to show a little more promise going forward were hit by two sucker punches.
A number of the travelling fans assisted in clearing the snow from the pitch before the game, but their efforts were in vain. Scotland started nervy and things never really got better. The first half was all Serbia and Scotland managed to battle to half time with the scores level.
After the break Scotland were more of an attacking threat, but after a tame shot by Jordan Rhodes, the ball went up to the Scotland area, and a poor challenge by Steven Whittaker, the ball fell to Filip Djuricic who calmly slotted the ball home.
Ironically, Scotland were enjoying their best period in the game but soon found themselves two goals down. This time, Alan Hutton seemed to be unaware of the presence of Nenad Tomovic as he awaited a pass from Gary Caldwell. The Serbian fullback nipped in, cut into the box, where the ball broke kindly for Duricic to once again score easily.
Belgium 1 (Hazard 63)
Belgium maintained their narrow advantage over Croatia at the top of the group on goal difference after completing back-to-back wins over Macedonia. Belgium dominated the opening period but couldn’t find the vital breakthrough.
Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens all came close in the opening half without success before Thomas Vermaelen got the ball in the net, however his goal was ruled out for offside. Macedonia’s only chance of note fell to Goran Pandev, his shot however failed to trouble Thibaut Courtois.
After the break it was much of the same for Belgium with Hazard again going close several times, before eventually breaking the deadlock in the 59th minute with a shot from the edge of the area that went in off the woodwork.
Wales 1 (Bale 21 Pen)
Croatia 2 (Lovren 77, Eduardo 87)
Wales’ chances of qualifying for the play-off all but ended with a late Eduardo goal three minutes from time breaking their fans’ hearts. Wales struck first when Dejan Lovren brought down Joe Ledley in the area, Gareth Bale converting the resulting spot kick.
Bale was a constant threat to Croatia and should of added a second shortly after his first, only to shoot over. Wales indeed started the stronger with Bale, Ledley and 19 year old Jonathan Williams all catching the eye.
The goal sprang Croatia into action and supplied pressure for most of the first half, however Wales’ quick breaks always threatened Croatia. The second half was a little more open, however late in the second half substitute Ivica Olic forced Wales to defend deeper and this paid off, when Chris Gunter blocked a shot, the ball landed at the feet of Lovren who made up for his earlier mistake.
Wales looked like they had weathered the storm only to have their hopes crushed two minutes from time, as Eduardo showed great skill to bring down Olic’s cross and strike a left-foot volley past Boaz Myhill.
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