x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

World cup qualifying round-up: Sweden forced to battle for Faroes win

Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired a comeback for Sweden after the Faroe Islands took a shock lead in their World Cup 2014 qualifying match.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic bundles home Sweden's second goal against the Faroe Islands
Zlatan Ibrahimovic bundles home Sweden's second goal against the Faroe Islands

Sweden were forced to come from behind against the lowly Faroe Islands to move into second place in Group C behind Germany.

A 75th-minute winner from Zlatan Ibrahimovic avoided embarrassment for the Swede, after heroics from former Manchester City goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen had kept the scores level.

Rogvi Baldvinsson had scored a shock opener for the Faroes, who were playing on their new artificial surface for the first time, before Ibrahimovic set up Kacaniklc for the equaliser.

Goals from Christian Benteke, Kevin de Bruyne and Kevin Mirallas gave Belgium a superb 3-0 win over Group A rivals Serbia in Belgrade.

Croatia stay level with the Belgians at the top of the group but only after coming from behind to win 2-1 in Macedonia. Agim Ibraimi put the hosts ahead early, before Vedran Corluka and Ivan Ratikic responded.

Italy shrugged off a minor scare to win 3-1 in Armenia, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo on target for the Italians, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan briefly equalised for the hosts in the first half.

Theodor Gebre Selassie, Toma Pekhart and Jan Rezek gave the Czech Republic a 3-1 win over Malta, while Bulgaria and Denmark settled for a 1-1 draw after Nicklas Bendtner equalised Dimitar Rangelov's early opener for the hosts.

Holland cantered to a 3-0 win over Group D minnows Andorra in Rotterdam with goals from Rafael van der Vaart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ruben Schaken.

Romania maintained their 100% start in the group thanks to Grozav Grozav's goal in a 1-0 win in Turkey, while Tamas Hajnal struck the only goal as Hungary won 1-0 in Estonia.

Switzerland are still top and unbeaten in Group E despite being pegged back against Norway. Mario Gavranovic looked to have won it for the Swiss with a 79th minute opener but Brede Hangeland equalised two minutes later.

Tim Matavs scored twice as Slovenia beat Cyprus 2-1, while Iceland won 2-1 in Albania thanks to a winner nine minutes from time from Tottenham striker Gylfi Sigurdsson.

In Group F, Alexander Kerzhakov's sixth-minute goal was enough to earn Russia a 1-0 win over Portugal in Moscow. Tomer Hemed completed a hat-trick in the final minute as Israel won 6-0 in Luxembourg.

Group G pace-setters Greece and Bosnia remain unbeaten after a tight goalless draw in Piraeus, a result that allows Slovakia to join them on seven points after Marek Hamsik and Marek Sapara scored in a 2-1 win over Latvia.

Also in Group G, two goals from Edgaras Cesnauskis were enough for Lithuania to claim a 2-0 victory in Liechtenstein.

England's Group G rivals Ukraine were frustrated by a goalless draw in Moldova.

A hat-trick from Pedro paved the way for Spain to ease to a 4-0 win over Belarus in Minsk after Jordi Alba's 12th minute opener, while Kasper Hamalainen's equaliser gave Finland a 1-1 draw with Georgia, who had led through Guram Kashia.