World Cup Soccer
                 === England tops Poland to reach World Cup ===
 London, England ( - Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard scored a
 goal  apiece  at Wembley on  Tuesday to send England  through to the World Cup
 with a 2-0 defeat of Poland.
 The  win sees  Roy Hodgson's side finish  atop Group H with 22 points, staying
 one  point clear  of Ukraine  following its  8-0 demolition  of San  Marino on
 England  came  out flying but only  managed to break the scoreless deadlock in
 the  41st minute when Leighton Baines' cross was met by a glancing header from
 Rooney, who guided the delivery into the bottom corner of the net.
 Poland  provided a  handful  of  scary moments  for  the  English defense  and
 threatened  to  equalize on  multiple occasions,  but the  dagger for the home
 nation  came  two minutes from  time when  Gerrard's wonderful solo effort was
 capped with a gentle toe-poke past the on-rushing Wojciech Szczesny.
 Ukraine's  comfortable win  over San Marino means that Mykhaylo Fomenko's side
 will  need to  emerge  victorious from  its two-legged  play-off  in order  to
 qualify  for Brazil next summer. Moldova, meanwhile, close out its final Group
 H match with a 5-2 win over Montenegro.
 In  Group  A, first-place Belgium  concluded its  qualifying effort with a 1-1
 draw  with  Wales. Croatia,  which will  advance to the  play-off by virtue of
 clinching second place in the group, was upset in a 2-0 loss to Scotland while
 Serbia finished the phase in style with a 5-1 defeat of lowly Macedonia.
 In  Group B, Denmark claimed second place with a smash-and-grab job as its 6-0
 thrashing  of Malta,  paired with  the Czech  Republic's narrow  1-0 win  over
 Bulgaria, helped Morten Olsen's side slide into the play-off. Italy closed out
 its qualifying slate with a 2-2 draw against Armenia.
 In  Group  C, Andre  Schurrle claimed  a hat trick  in Germany's thrilling 5-3
 victory  over Sweden,  Ireland  wrapped  up its  qualifying  campaign with  an
 encouraging 3-1 defeat of Kazakhstan and Austria cruised to a 3-0 win over the
 Faroe Islands.
 In Group D, Ciprian Marica helped Romania steal second place as his brace gave
 the  nation a 2-0 win over Estonia. Turkey, which came into the final matchday
 in  second place,  suffered a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands while Hungary closed
 out the group with a 2-0 win over Andorra.
 In  Group E, Iceland  secured second place and a chance to go to the World Cup
 thanks  to a  1-1 draw  at Norway  and Switzerland's  1-0 defeat  of Slovenia.
 Cyprus,  meanwhile, closed out its qualifying campaign with a 0-0 draw against
 In  Group F, Russia clinched top spot and a place in the World Cup thanks to a
 1-1  draw  with Azerbaijan while Portugal  was made to settle for second place
 despite  a  3-0 defeat of Luxembourg.  Israel and Northern Ireland played to a
 1-1 draw in a match with no implications.
 In  Group G, Bosnia-Herzegovina  secured a spot in the World Cup for the first
 time  since gaining  independence in 1992 as Vedad Ibisevic's goal in the 68th
 minute was enough to grant the side first place in the group with a 1-0 defeat
 of  Lithuania.  Greece earned a 2-0  victory over Liechtenstein to remain even
 with  the Bosnians on points and clinch second place in the group while Latvia
 and Slovakia played to a 2-2 draw.
 And  in  Group I, Spain  confirmed its ticket to  Brazil by finishing atop the
 group  with  a 2-0 defeat  of Georgia. That means  France will have to qualify
 through  its play-off  tie despite its comfortable 3-0 victory over Finland on
 10/15 17:17:40 ET

Powered by The Sports Network.