Spain and Germany made to sweat as Russia cruise

By Martyn Herman, Reuters

Posted at Sep 12 2012 02:07 PM | Updated as of Sep 12 2012 10:07 PM

LONDON - Spain began their World Cup qualifying campaign with three points in Georgia but the holders were made to sweat before Roberto Soldado struck late on for a 1-0 victory on Tuesday.

Germany also had some anxious moments before continuing their domination of neighbours Austria with a 2-1 victory.

Things were far more straightforward for Fabio Capello's Russia who made it two wins from two in Group F with a 4-0 thrashing of Israel in Ramat Gan.

The Netherlands were also in free-scoring from as they cruised to a 4-1 victory in Hungary while Turkey enjoyed a 3-0 home win over 10-man Estonia also in Group D.

Bosnia took their goal tally from their opening two games in Group G to 12 with a 4-1 home victory over Latvia.

World and European champions Spain needed 86 minutes to break through an ultra defensive Georgia in Tbilisi with Roberto Soldado marking a rare start with a close-range winner.

With Fernando Torres and David Villa consigned to the bench by coach Vicente del Bosque, Soldado missed several chances before netting a low cross by substitute Cesc Fabregas.

It was a little hard on Georgia who defended tenaciously and also had to contend with the loss of their first choice keeper Giorgi Loria with 20 minutes remaining.


Georgia nearly took a shock lead early in the second half when Aleksander Amisulashvili's curling shot hit the post and Del Bosque admitted it was a relief to return with a victory.

"They closed ranks from the start and we tried everything but we were missing a little attacking dynamism," he told Spanish TV.

"These are three exceptionally important points because if we had drawn today it would have been a significant setback," he added.

Germany survived a torrid first half against Austria before Marco Reus and Mesut Ozil scored either side of halftime to give them a 2-1 win .

The Germans clung on for three points and only won after Marko Arnautovic missed a great chance for the hosts late on.

Russia continued their bright start under former England coach Capello with Alexander Kerzhakov scoring twice against an Israel side who already look destined to make up the numbers in a group that also contains Portugal.

Turkey hit back from their opening defeat by the Netherlands with a comfortable win against Estonia who played most of the match with 10 men after Enar Jaager's red card.

Switzerland are the early pacesetters in Group E after a 2-0 victory over Albania while Serbia faced British opposition for the second time in four days, thrashing visitors Wales 6-1 in Group A having been held 0-0 away to Scotland on Saturday. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Ken Ferris)