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World Cup Round-Up: Italy And Spain Enjoy Strong Wins, Wales Held

Spain's defender Ignacio Monreal (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the FIFA qualifying Group G football match Spain vs Macedonia at Los Carmenes stadium in Granada, on November 12, 2016. / AFP / JORGE GUERRERO (Photo credit should read JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)

The second wave of European World Cup qualifiers took place on Saturday night, including former world champions Italy and Spain.

To Group D first, where the Republic of Ireland took control of the pool with a deserved 1-0 win against Austria (more of which you can read about here and here).  James McClean scored the only goal of the game with a well-taken effort three minutes into the second half.

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria 12/11/2016 Austria vs Republic of Ireland Austria's of Ireland
INPHO/Ryan Byrne
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Wales, meanwhile were looking to bounce back from their 1-1 draw against Georgia with a home game against Serbia. Gareth Bale had the hosts ahead on the half-hour mark, but Chris Coleman’s side had to settle for a 1-1 draw as Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised late on.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 12:  Gareth Bale of Wales scores the first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Serbia at Cardiff City Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

In the group’s other game, Moldova secured a surprise 1-1 draw at Georgia. Valeri Kaziashvilli had the hosts ahead within the first twenty minutes, but they were pegged back by Aleksandru Gatcan late into the second half.

To Group G next, where Spain were looking to maintain their strong start with a home tie against Macedonia. Darko Velkovski scored Spain’s goal for them when he put through his own net ten minutes before half time, with further goals from Vitolo, Artiz Aduriz and Nacho Monreal gave the home side a comfortable 4-0 win.

Spain's midfielder Vitolo celebrates after scoring during the FIFA qualifying Group G football match Spain vs Macedonia at Los Carmenes stadium in Granada, on November 12, 2016. / AFP / JORGE GUERRERO        (Photo credit should read JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)

Italy, meanwhile, ensured that they stayed neck-and-neck with Spain with a 4-0 win of their own, away to Liechtenstein. Andrea Belotti opened and closed the scoring, with Ciro Immobile and Antonio Candreva netting in between, with all four goals coming in the first half.

VADUZ, LIECHTENSTEIN - NOVEMBER 12:  Mattia De Sciglio (R) of Italy competes for the ball with Martin Buchel of Liechtenstein during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group G Qualifiers football match between Liechtenstein and Italy at  the Rheinpark Stadion on November 12, 2016 in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Israel remain just one point behind the leaders as they ran out 3-0 winners against nine-man Albania, Erin Zahavi, Daniel Einbinder and Eliran Atar doing the necessary damage.

Finally, to Group J, as Croatia stayed on top of the pile with a 2-0 win at home to Iceland. Marcelo Brozovic opened the scoring after fifteen minutes, before the Inter midfielder made sure of the win with a second in injury time.

ZAGREB, CROATIA - NOVEMBER 12: Marcelo Brozovic (11) of Croatia national football team celebrates scoring a goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Group I match between Croatia and Iceland at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, Croatia on November 12, 2016.  (Photo by Stipe Mayic/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukraine move to second place with a 1-0 win against Finland. Artem Kravets scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half to see the home side leapfrog Iceland.

Ukraine's Artem Kravets (R) vies with Finland's Paulus Arajuuri during the 2018 World Cup football qualifying match between Ukraine and Finland at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa on November 12, 2016.  / AFP / SERGEI SUPINSKY        (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey claimed their first win of the campaign with a 2-0 win at home to Kosovo. Burak Yilmaz and  Volkan Sen sealed the win within ten minutes of the restart to bring Fatih Terim’s side into contention for the playoffs.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.