World Cup Soccer
 
                === Spain edges France to move atop Group I ===
 
 Saint  Denis, France  (Sports Network) - Spain  moved to the top of Group I of
 UEFA  World Cup qualifying on Tuesday, earning a 1-0 win over 10-man France at
 the Stade de France.
 
 Pedro  produced  the telling  goal in  the 58th minute  while Paul Pogba's two
 yellow  cards in  the span of a  minute inside the final quarter-hour left Les
 Blues with no way back.
 
 France's  first loss of the group stage leaves the nation on 10 points through
 five matches, one point back of first-place Spain.
 
 La  Roja  dictated play throughout  the opening period  but failed to turn its
 possession into a first-half lead.
 
 But  the break  through came 13 minutes after the restart when Nacho Monreal's
 low  cross to  the back post was met  by Pedro. Hugo Lloris got a piece of the
 shot  and  even had  a second  stab at  it, but  the French 'keeper ultimately
 failed to prevent the ball from trickling over the goal line.
 
 The  proceedings  were made even more  difficult for France in the 78th minute
 when  Pogba, in just his second cap for the national team, was issued a second
 yellow  card. The  Juventus midfielder was a split-second late to a loose ball
 and caught Xavi's ankle with the underside of his boot.
 
 France  managed  to come within inches  of grabbing an equalizer three minutes
 from  time when  Mathieu  Valbuena  delivered an  inch-perfect  free kick  for
 Patrice  Evra to nod  a shot on target with a diving header, but Victor Valdes
 was  equal to  the task, parrying the effort aside to preserve Spain's victory
 with a strong left-handed save.
 
 In  Group H  action on Tuesday, England  threw away the opportunity to move to
 the  top  of the  group by  conceding late in  a 1-1  draw with Montenegro. It
 looked  as if England  would cruise to victory when Wayne Rooney scored in the
 sixth  minute,  but a  poor second  half gave way  to Dejan Damjanovic's 76th-
 minute equalizer, keeping the Three Lions two points back of Montenegro.
 
 Also in Group H, Poland routed San Marino in a 5-0 victory to move up to eight
 points while Ukraine kept pace with a 2-1 win over Moldova.
 
 In  Group  F, Portugal  received second-half  goals from  Bruno Alves and Hugo
 Almeida to claim a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan on Tuesday, but it remains level on
 points with Israel after its 2-0 defeat of Northern Ireland.
 
 The  Netherlands  kept its unblemished  record in Group  D in tact on Tuesday,
 thumping  Romania 4-0  behind a brace from Robin van Persie. Seven points back
 of  the Dutch  is Hungary,  which stormed  back for  a 1-1  draw with  Turkey.
 Rounding out Group D action, Estonia picked up a 2-0 win over Andorra.
 
 Germany  extended its lead  atop Group C with a 4-1 victory over Kazakhstan on
 Tuesday.  The  Germans improve to 16  points through six matches to move eight
 points  ahead of Austria, which needed a late goal from David Alaba to salvage
 a point in a 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland.
 
 Italy  moved to the  summit of Group B as a brace from Mario Balotelli powered
 the  Italians to a 2-0 defeat of Malta. Italy displaced Bulgaria at the top of
 the table following its 1-1 draw with Denmark while the Czech Republic rounded
 out Group C action with a comfortable 3-0 win over Armenia.
 
 And in Group A play, Belgium and Croatia remained tied at the top of the table
 by  earning  wins over Macedonia  and Wales, respectively. Eden Hazard grabbed
 the  lone goal in Belgium's 1-0 defeat of Macedonia while Croatia received two
 goals  in  the final  13 minutes for  its 2-1 victory  over Wales. Serbia also
 picked up a win on Tuesday, defeating Scotland by a 2-0 score.
 
 
 
 03/26 18:39:23 ET

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