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World Cup qualifiers: Spain get off to winning start

first_imgRoberto Soldado snatched a late winner as Spain avoided a shock draw in their opening qualifier in Georgia.Soldado made no mistake from close range when set up by substitute Cesc Fabregas in the 86th minute to score the only goal of the game.Germany continued their 100% start to Group C with a 2-1 win in Austria, while Italy beat Malta 2-0.Manchester United striker Robin van Persie came off as a precaution as Netherlands won 4-1 in Hungary.Van Persie was replaced at half-time but Netherlands still won comfortably in Hungary thanks to a double from Jeremain Lens and goals from Bruno Martins Indi and Klaas Jan Huntelaar.It looked like being a frustrating evening for Spain as they struggled to break down an ultra-defensive Georgia side in their opening match in Group I. But Valencia striker Soldado’s close-range finish made it 11 wins in 13 games for Spain in 2012.Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said: “I would like to congratulate Georgia for their extraordinary performance.“They played with great enthusiasm and made it very difficult for us.”France stay top of Group I after making it two wins out of two with a 3-1 win over Belarus.Goals from Etienne Capoue and Christophe Jallet put France in control, and new Tottenham signing Hugo Lloris then saved a penalty from Belarus’s Sergey Kornilenko – only to see Anton Putsila convert the rebound. Franck Ribery then settled any nerves 10 minutes from time with the third.Goals from Marco Reus and a Mesut Ozil penalty either side of half-time gave Germany the points in Austria, while Mattia Destro and Federico Peluso scored the goals in Italy’s win.last_img read more