x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

England make it seven out of seven

Fabio Capello's men extend their winning streak while Argentina's World Cup qualifying campaign suffers.

Jermain Defoe, left, of England celebrates scoring the fifth goal of the game with John Terry and Glen Johnson during match against Andorra.
Jermain Defoe, left, of England celebrates scoring the fifth goal of the game with John Terry and Glen Johnson during match against Andorra.

WEMBLEY, ENGLAND // England moved within three points of World Cup qualification by routing Andorra 6-0, and Serbia won 2-0 at the Faeroe Islands to extend their group lead. Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe each scored twice as England registered their seventh straight win of the campaign to put them within three points of advancing to next year's tournament in South Africa. Also in Group 6, Ukraine won 2-1 at Kazakhstan to put them level with second-place Croatia on 11 points. Serbia's win over the Faeroes gave them an eight-point lead in Group 7 over France, who have played two games less.

In Wednesday's other qualifiers, Russia maintained the pressure on Group 4 leader Germany by winning 3-0 in Finland. Sweden thrashed Malta 4-0 to keep alive their slim hopes of qualifying from Group 1. The Netherlands, who have already secured top spot in Group 9, beat Norway 2-0. Macedonia moved level with second-place Scotland on seven points with a 2-0 win over Iceland. At Wembley Stadium, England fans had to wait just four minutes for Rooney to open the scoring, meeting Glen Johnson's deep ball with a header past Koldo Alvarez.

Frank Lampard added the second in the 29th before Rooney met another cross from Johnson in the 39th for his 10th international goal of the season. The fourth goal did not arrive until the 73rd. David Beckham, starting his first competitive England match in two years, initiated the move, sending a corner to Johnson on the edge of the penalty area, and the defender's cross being headed in by Defoe. Defoe was on the scoresheet again three minutes later when Beckham's free kick was parried by Alvarez and the striker was perfectly placed to pounce. Peter Crouch bundled the ball over the line for the sixth in the 80th.

"We have to win another game to be sure of going to South Africa," the England manager Fabio Capello said. "We have created a group. This is important, the spirit of the group. We always play to win." Argentina's World Cup fear of heights resurfaced when they lost 2-0 in Ecuador while Brazil and Chile both moved closer to a trip to South Africa with home wins. South American group leaders Brazil came from behind to beat Paraguay 2-1 in a top-of-the-table clash while surprise package Chile thumped a negative Bolivia 4-0. Argentina, who have 22 points from 14 games, stayed in the top four positions which guarantee a place in South Africa but are only two points clear of fifth-placed Ecuador after their defeat at altitude in Quito. The team which finishes fifth in the 10-team group must play off over two legs against a team from CONCACAF. Uruguay, who have 18 points, and Venezuela, who have 17, stayed in contention after their 2-2 draw in Puerto Ordaz while Colombia, also on 17, kept their hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Peru. Lionel Messi missed a glaring chance in the 10th minute before Carlos Tevez had his penalty saved by the Argentine-born Ecuador goalkeeper Marcelo Elizaga. "The didn't do anything in the first half," Maradona told reporters. "In the second half, they got a couple of rebounds and they scored two goals."

*AP / Reuters