England and Ukraine toiled to a draw, Scotland won in Macedonia, and Northern Ireland became the first team to lose in Luxembourg in 43 years
Anyway, we done. Night-night; international football lives!
So, Iceland go second behind Switzerland, but this group is another close one, with Norway, Albania and Slovenia all competing and separated by just three points.
FULL-TIME: BELARUS 2-4 FRANCE
FULL-TIME: ICELAND 2-1 ALBANIA
So, these groups then. They're complicated, and accordingly, here's a link to them.
GOAL! BELARUS 2-4 FRANCE (POGBA, 74)
I know Manchester United have a humiliation of midfield riches, but really, not making sure to keep him was highly silly. Meanwhile, France, without a goal in 525 minutes, have happened upon four all on the same night.
FULL-TIMES (OR SHOULD THAT BE FULLS-TIME?)
Austria 1-0 Ireland
Faroe Islands 0-3 Germany
Greece 1-0 Latvia
Italy 2-1 Czech Republic - Italy qualify for the World Cup
San Marino 1-5 Poland
FULL-TIME: WALES 0-3 SERBIA
We've just been shown Gareth Bale coming on as Wales' highlight leading into the break. That's about all anyone needs to know of this sorry mess.
FULL-TIME: UKRAINE 0-0 ENGLAND
So, if England can beat Montenegro and Poland at home, they'll get to embarrass themselves in Brazil. What a thrill for the world, which deserves not to be deprived of the privilege of watching a team of such rare talent and enterprise.
"Rickie Lambert really has got the touch of a third division centre forward!" exclaims Ron Allen.
That's a tad harsh, but not entirely the point - to succeed in a tournament with an inferior team, it's important to have options. That's how Italy won the World Cup in 2006, pretty much - no great attackers, so took six and used them all, cleverly.
Three minutes to go in Kiev. Roughly, a draw suits both teams - England because they're ahead in the group, somehow, despite having beaten no one of remote note, and Ukraine because they have easier games remaining.
In the meantime, Lambert flicks on a long throw, it's a allowed to bounce, and Lampard sneaks onto it, but heads just wide.
GOAL! BELARUS 2-3 FRANCE (NAZ-ERR-EEE, 70)
Theo Walcott has limped off in limp fashion after a limp performance. He's been replaced by Tom Cleverley, who, a year ago, and two years ago, looked a prospect. He's lost himself slightly in the last six months, but if he can use the brain that can spot a pass to put him where he needs to be on the pitch more of the time, he might yet amount to a player.
GOAL! BELARUS 2-2 FRANCE (RIBERY, 64)
Poland are now 5-1 up on San Marino; I'm not glorying that one with bold. One man's stand against the iniquities of the system.
GOAL! AUSTRIA 1-0 IRELAND (ALABA)
And a very pleasant one, I'm lead to believe.
England have created as many chances this evening as I have, multiplied by infinity plus one.
Simon McMahon might just be crying. "Wow. We didn't find a way to lose after all, Daniel. We found a way to win. How unlike us. Oh Scotland!"
Thing is, Scotland now have some nice players - no reason not to expect more wins of this ilk, especially if they play to attack.
FULL-TIME: MACEDONIA 1-2 SCOTLAND
Scotland move above the abovementioned FYRians, and also Wales.
GOAL! FAROE ISLANDS 0-2
ARSENAL GERMANY (OZIL, PEN 72)
GOAL! BELARUS 2-1 FRANCE (KALACHEV, 57)
Yep, it's definitely smart work, though perhaps has a stronger football culture. China has a larger population than Germany, for example. But still, very handy behaviour.
GOAL! MACEDONIA 1-2 SCOTLAND (MALONEY)
And what a goal this is, a free-kick that Maloney hits with his laces and probably on the valve, from fairly central, that skips over the wall and dips under the bar. Beautiful.
GOAL! GREECE 1-0 LATVIA (SALPINGIDIS)More bad news for Slovakia.
GOAL! MACEDONIA 1-1 SCOTLAND (KOSTOVSKI, 84)
Poor Simon McMahon. Meanwhile, Ashley Young has replaced Jack Wilshere for England, with James Milner moving into midfield. But Ukraine are stepping up the pressure.
GOAL! WALES 0-3 SERBIA (MARKOVIC, 55)
Gareth Bale is on the pitch. No way? Way!
It's Belarus 1-1 France, and Iceland 2-1 Albania. If it stays this way, Iceland will be favourites to finish behind Switzerland.
FULL-TIME: LUXEMBOURG 3-2 NORTHERN IRELAND
Michael O'Neill needs to invite Norman Whiteside into his dressing room.
GOALS! ITALY 2-1 CZECH REPUBLIC (CHIELLINI AND BALOTELLI, PEN)
This makes the runners-up spot in Group B most likely between Bulgaria and Denmark, Bulgaria currently holding a one-point advantage.
GOAL! MACEDONIA 0-1 SCOTLAND (ANYA, 59)Simon McMahon is excited.
GOAL! LUXEMBOURG 3-2 NORTHERN IRELAND (MATHIAS JANISCH)
A cross isn't properly cleared, Joachim holds off McAuley, and Mathias Janisch stabs home. Luxembourg have not won a home World Cup game in 43 years.
GOAL! ANDORRA 0-2 HOLLAND (YOU KNOW THE KOO)
GOALS! SLOVAKIA 1-2 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 2 (Bkikacic and Hajrovic)
Wow - this is some serious occurrence. Only eight minutes to go...
Meanwhile: Romania and Turkey are playing injury-time, Turkey still leading by a goal to nil, as the commentators say.
Georgia 0-1 Finland
Norway 0-2 Switzerland
Malta 1-2 Bulgaria
GOAL! LUXEMBOURG 2-2 NORTHERN IRELAND (MCAULEY, 82)
Norwood crosses from the right and McAuley jumps to head down, the ball bouncing up and in.
GOAL! LUXEMBOURG 2-1 NORTHERN IRELAND (BENSI, 78)
This is a great finish, though the absence of perturbed defenders was not helpful. But Bensi advanced in the inside-right channel, and lashed a low shot across Carroll and into the corner. Luxembourg have won only three World cup qualifiers in their entire history.
We're off again in Kiev. Gareth Bale was running around in Cardiff, which I believe will be the major topic for discussion on Newsnight later.
GOAL! ANDORRA 0-1 HOLLAND 1 (VAN PERSIE, 49)
And it's a jazzer. Here it be.
In non-competitive action, Spain are 1-2 down to Chile, Vargas with both of Chile's goals, Soldado for Spain.
GOAL! MALTA 0-2 BULGARIA (GARGOROV , 59)
To hear Tyldesley and Townsend you'd think that this is one of the all-time great tactical performances. I'll leave you to riddle me whether that is indeed the case, or whether this is just two miserable teams miserably tapping about to miniscule avail.
HALF-TIME IN KIEV: UKRAINE 0-0 ENGLAND
Not much coming to pass here - or put another way, Roy Hodgson football to a tee.
Football shirts that look like they should be on Ayia Napa Uncovered - both England and Manchester United. Nonsense.
SOME GOALS! SAN MARINO 1-3 POLAND
GOAL! WALES 0-2 SERBIA (KOLAROV, 38)
Kolarov assumes possession left of centre, perhaps 30 yards from goal, and while the Wales defenders contemplate the eternal questions, he leathers a drive high across Myhill and against the netting. "We want Coleman out" appears to the refrain in Cardiff.
GOAL! SLOVAKIA 1-0 BOSNIA -HERZOGOVINA 0 (HAMSIK , 42)
Another significant moment. Bosnia currently top the group, jointly with Greece, but a win here for Slovakia would close the gap to one point.
GOAL! HUNGARY 3-1 ESTONIA (BODE, 41)
So, if Turkey can survive the final half-hour in Romania, that'll be Hungary on 14 points and t'other two on 13, with these fixtures to come:
Rule Britannia. What a world. What a species.
When Britain first, at Heaven's command Arose from out the azure main;This was the charter of the land,And guardian angels sang this strain:"Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:"Britons never will be slaves."
The nations, not so blest as thee,Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;While thou shalt flourish great and free,The dread and envy of them all."Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:"Britons never will be slaves."
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,More dreadful, from each foreign stroke;As the loud blast that tears the skies,Serves but to root thy native oak."Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:"Britons never will be slaves."
Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame:All their attempts to bend thee down,Will but arouse thy generous flame;But work their woe, and thy renown."Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:"Britons never will be slaves."
To thee belongs the rural reign;Thy cities shall with commerce shine:All thine shall be the subject main,And every shore it circles thine."Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:"Britons never will be slaves."
The Muses, still with freedom found,Shall to thy happy coast repair;Blest Isle! With matchless beauty crown'd,And manly hearts to guard the fair. "Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:"Britons never will be slaves."
IRRELEVANT GOAL! FAROES 0-1 GERMANY (MERTESACKER, 23)
If only his name had umlauts, imagine the excitement.
More evidence of Scottish superiority. "It's all Scotland," says Seamus Devlin. "I wonder if the average height of the boys in white is setting some sort of all time record. Though I'm not saying we need more Alan Huttons."
I wonder what happened with him - it really did seem as though he could play.
HUGE GOAL! ITALY 0-1 CZECH REPUBLIC (KOZAK, 19)
Three holes in the ground time in Turin. Rosicky sends Jiracek away down the left, and he crosses for Kozak to tap in. For now, this just means bad news for Armenia, who were probably done already, but if it stays this way, the Czech game in Bulgaria will attract many adjectives.
GOAL! SAN MARINO 0-1 POLAND (ZIELINSKI, 11)
GOAL! LUXEMBOURG 1-1 NORTHERN IRELAND (JOACHIM 45)
Oh dear. Just as the referee's lips were pursed to signal half-time, Joachim rifled a shot from the right of the box that took a deflection and whooshed past Roy Carrolli.
Gerrard and Lampard are absolutely dominating the midfield in Kiev. It makes you wonder why no one thought to pair them before.
Scotland update with Simon McMahon: "Half an hour gone in Skopje, and Scotland are flippin' murderin' Macedonia 0-0. I wonder what way we can find to lose this one?"
And as we speak, Scott Brown was sent through by Maloney, but perhaps overran the ball a touch - though even so, he ought probably to have scored, his shot smothered by the keeper like an aged, rich relative.
Serbia's goal was scored by Djordevic.
In Kiev, England are under pressure, neologist and verb specialist Townsend telling us of a "spot" and a pick-out", namely a crossfield pass to the back post, that the Ukraine right-back couldn't quite reach.
GOAL! HUNGARY 2-0 ESTONIA (Hajnal, 21)
GOAL! WALES 0-1 SERBIA (SOMEONE)
A left-wing cross is headed goalwards, and Myhill can only set it in the air, to Someone, who headed home.
Joe Hart flaps.
Pardon me. I forgot to note that Gareth Bale is on the bench for Wales. People appear to be riveted by this riveting development.
GOAL! CYPRUS 0-1 SLOVENIA (NOVAKOVIC, 13)
For completists only. These two occupy the bottom two places in Group E.
Theo Walcott, who likes knights and dragons, has already zipped by his marker, and England win a couple of corners that come to nowt.
GOAL! HUNGARY 1-0 ESTONIA (KLAVAN, O.G.)
Joe Hart lunges to cut out a cross and takes out an attacker, who trips over his body. That's a penalty, but the referee elects not to award it. He's obviously familiar with #Hartdog's reputation.
Dearie me. We all know that this England teams is more of a state than Alabama through Wyoming, but really, seeing it written down. Dearie me.
By unfortunate twist of fate I found myself at Wembley for the England-Ukraine game. When England won the penalty, an individual in front of me was so overcome by tension - or being visible to those around him, one of the two - that he turned his back while the kick was taken. I, for one, was impressed.
"My game is fair play", says Steven Gerrard.
Clive Tyldesley is talking about Trafalgar. No doubt it is Ashley Cole's inspiration. Meanwhile, the players are to read "statements of intent" as regards fair play. You really could not make it up.
On Fifa's website, the words "2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil" appear with the letters TM next to them. So too does the strapline "All in one rhythm". Meanwhile, the host nation, a country with an immense poverty problem, is spending enormous sums of public money on building stadiums, evicting residents from their homes so to do, and the government is under pressure from the game's governing body to pass a "General Law of the World Cup". It stipulates how the tournament must be run, and in some aspects conflicts with Brazil's existing legislation – a current sticking point concerns Fifa's refusal to allow half-price admission to games for students, retirees, those receiving state assistance and the disabled. On top of that, the law requires "special trials for the processing and judgment of cases related to the events" – or in other words, a judicial system to supplant that already in place – and that Fifa and all connected with it "will remain free from costs, emoluments, fees and other expenses" to the various judicial and legal institutions. It's a relief to see that everyone has their priorities all sorted.
"My 12 yr-old son found a new hero when he discovered that McAteer clip," writes Fran Burke, "which melds all of his tween pursuits: the incredible height of the lunge, the music from one of his favourite films ("The Karate Kid"), the chopsocky sound effect followed by "fatality!" from Mortal Kombat, and then Keano, whom he was brought up on, strangling the Macedonian player - and remaining on the pitch. A work of art, in the youngster's eyes...."
And that's without even mentioning that quite magnificent jersey.
Full teams from the England game:
Ukraine: Pyatov; Fedetskiy, Khacheridi, Kucher, Shevchuk; Stepanenko, Edmar, Gusev; Yarmolenko, Konoplyanka, Zozulya. Subs: Koval, Dedechko, Tymoschuk, Seleznyov, Khomchenovskiy, Bezus, Mandzyuk, Grechyshkin, Morozyuk, Rakitskiy, Devic, Khudzamov.
England: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole; Lampard, Gerrard, Wilshere, Walcott, Lambert, Milner. Subs: Ruddy, Smalling, Baines, Caulker, Carrick, Cleverley, Barkley, Defoe, Young, Sterling, Townsend, Forster.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)
Sarah Rothwell is scarred. "I could tell you stories about my mother and her punishments..." she dotdotodts, "but if there's any chance she'd see the MBM then I'd really be in for it. Just not worth the risk. Sorry."
I can assure you that our collective imaginations are far more appalling than the reality.
GOAL! LUXEMBOURG 0-1 NORTHERN IRELAND
This is an excellent goal, Ferguson slotting a ball through for Paterson, who controlled, taking the ball into space and away from a defender - you'll excuse me for not recognising him - before drilling a low, arcing finish past Joubert from just outside the box.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland are holding Luxembourg - it's 0-0 after 13 minutes.
GOAL! HUGE GOAL! ROMANIA 0-1 TURKEY (YILMAZ, 22)
Punishments. "My mother's weapon of choice," regresses Matt Dony, "was traditionally the big, disappointed eyes, deep, resigned sigh and guilt trips so big they covered intercontinental distances. Wooden spoons sting, but nothing, nothing scars like a big ol' guilt trip. Not that I'm damaged at all..."
Yes, but what when all that "I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed" is accompanied by anger and brandished spurtle?
GOAL! MALTA 0-1 BULGARIA (HABER, O.G.)
GOAL! NORWAY 0-2 SWITZERLAND (SCHAR, 51)
Talking of Roy Keane, here he is in wildman phase, rescuing Jason McAteer after a quite spectacular foul.
Your England line-up in full:
Hart; Walker, Jagielka, Cahill, Cole; Walcott, Lampard, Gerrard, Wilshere, Milner; Lambert.
"The biggest mistake you can make in sport is overestimate the opposition and underestimate yourselves."
Roy Keane is a quite magnificent contrarily.
"We here in India," says Kaustubh Mone, "despite having close to a dozen sports channels telecast, will not be able to watch Ukraine vs. England.. we will however get to see the mouth-watering Group B fixture between Italy and Czech Republic. Having spent a year working in Prague, I do have a soft corner for the Bohemians.. need updates on that match."
Handily, I am present at all of them, so not a problem.
More football. Romania and Turkey, both competing for second place in Group D, along with Hungary, are scoreless after ten minutes. It is, according to the very kind David Stockin, a decent game. Turkey play Holland away next, and are a point behind Hungary and three behind Romania, so will need to contrive victory to have very much hope of progress. Hungary are at home to Estonia later on.
Team news. Milner starts for England in place of Welbeck, which should improve the side's rectangular quality. Otherwise, an email from Gary Naylor:
"World Cups have not been the same since the only player you would ever see in a 14 shirt was Johann Cruyff and every team (except Haiti) had a mysteriously languid free-kick specialist of whom an entire hemisphere was ignorant. But, you know, it's the World Cup this summer. THE WORLD CUP! As Woody Allen said of sex, even when they're bad, they're still good."
This gets really complicated when you chuck in some 80s bad-means-good slang. It's so good it's bad, and so bad it's good.
"Evening Daniel." chirps Simon McMahon. "I know you're just trying to tease and build the tension, but I can't wait. Tonight's about one thing and one thing only, namely can Scotland beat Macedonia and avoid the wooden spoon in Group A? If not I reckon we could be in Pot 7 next time. Below San Marino and just above Dukla Pumpherston Sawmill & Tannery."
The wooden spoon was my mum's weapon of choice for a period, though she - or I - eventually graduated to the spurtle. Anyone else zetzed with anything more creative?
Bah. Joshua Moraes is also watching Kazakhstan - Sweden. Can either of you stand on your head?
FULL-TIME: LITHUANIA 2-0 LICHTENSTEIN
Euphemisms. Here's one from the wonderful Stupot Pearce:
"I don't want to speak out of school and speak out of confidences," he begins, before duly speaking out of school and speaking out of confidences, "but we had a situation with Gareth Bale". It's the new "with all due respect". You can read the whole excuse here. The words "Michael", "Mancienne" and "midfield" are conspicuous by their absences.
On one's mind. Georgia and Finland are goalless, Switzerland still lead Norway.
FULL-TIME: ARMENIA 0-1 DENMARK
This is a result of Allardycian proportions. If Czech Republic don't win in Italy, they'll probably need to win in both Malta and Bulgaria to have a chance of second, while Bulgaria will expect to win in Malta themselves, later this evening.
FULL-TIME: KHAZAKHSTAN 0-1 SWEDEN
So, Sweden move onto 17 points, but still need four from their two remaining fixtures to be sure of second place.
Sweden are almost home. Shomko has just shot and missed, and the teams are now playing injury time.
Confusion in Uzbekistan. Adam Burchell attempts to clear matters up. "Although the feed cut-out, Arabic TV had a commentator on their channel and Jordan have won on penalties... although it's still not definitively known what the penalties result was, it's something like 9-10 to Jordan... very upsetting for us Uzbekistan fans.... Jordan will go on to be humbled considerably by the South American nation who will probably look forward to finishing 5th now."
RED CARD! Varazdat Haroyan has been shown a second yellow card - Armenia are now down to ten men.
GOAL! a Daniel Agger penalty has given Denmark the lead in Armenia!
Misheard song lyrics - "scuse me, while I kiss this guy", that kind of thing. Well, Amy Winehouse was actually singing back to Bergkamp, so back to Bergkamp, here's Graham Randall, not, of course, to be confused with the renowned jungle disc jockey.
"Was at that game. Notable for the two goals that Leicester scored in stoppage time and Steve Walsh threatening to knock Ian Wright’s head off at the final whistle. Not bad goals by Bergkamp though."
What had Wright done? There exist multitudes.
Roving reporters. Here's Saurav Samaddar. "I'm watching the match and while Kazakhstan look lively on the odd occasions they manage to have some possession, Sweden seem to be successfully closing the match out. The only reason I'm sending this mail is because, for some inconceivable reason, this match is being shown on Indian television and feel that there must exist some proof somewhere that someone in the country is actually watching it."
That's quite some achievement - I wonder, in a country of so many people, has there ever been an activity performed by only one person at any one time?
Email: "Any news on Uzbekistan v Jordan?" wonders Kristaps Paddock. "Surely that's the biggest match of the day? Determining who will go on to be quashed by Uruguay?"
It's 1-1 at the moment, I believe.
Other great hat-tricks. Hasselbaink.
Talking of Iceland, that Johann Gudmundsson hat-trick was quite something.
Group E is nearing peace, love and unity after Iceland's astounding comeback against Switzerland at the weekend. But the Swiss have recovered well, and are one-up in Oslo thanks to Fabian Schär. A win will almost guarantee them automatic qualification, but Albania and the aforementioned Iceland, who meet later on, will fancy themselves to nab the second spot and accordant play-off - should they draw, Switzerland are both done and done.
Next. Finland and Georgia are locked at 0-0 after half of the first half, but neither of them will be booking any waxes - Spain and France will be topping that group.
Hilarious Borat jokes and all that. Sweden are 1-0 up in Khazakhstan, thanks to Ibrahimovic's first-minute goal. They'll be fairly keen to win this one, as they're only thee points ahead of Ireland and Austria, and in their final two games, play Austria and then Germany, runaway group leaders.
Complexity. Complexity is Group B. Italy are miles ahead with 17 points, but behind them, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Armenia and Denmark are separated by just one point. Currently, the latter two are drawing 0-0 in Yerevan, with 55 minutes or so gone. Later this evening, Bulgaria are away to Malta and Italy host Czech Republic. I'd watch that, if the various telly lot weren't foisting upon us the various home nation tediums.
Elsewhere in Europe it's not England, which is a start. But in the L derby, Lithuania lead Liechtenstein 2-0 with just four minutes to go. This affects nothing as regards qualification, but debate rages in my head as to whether Liechtenstein ought to be allowed to participate in the festivities. I'd permit it if Vatican City had a team - they have a fierce local rivalry with Vatican United.
So, first things first. The first result is upon us. Israel, many members of its team afflicted by severe Aseret Yemei Teshuva fever, have been beaten 3-1 away to Russia, all the goals coming in the second half. Berezutsky, Kokorin and Glushakov scored for the home side, Zahavi scrambling a last-minute consolation. This means that Russia pass Portugal to top the group by a point; should they win in Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, they'll qualify for Brazil. Should they not, Portugal can overtake them by winning their home ties with Israel and Luxembourg.
Preamble. There's loads of stuff in life that should be good that isn't good; life, for example. Or international football, in theory, so very brilliant - all the world's countries, playing the world game, against all the other world's countries - and yet, by and large, it's been an abject debacle for the the last 13 years. However.
However. However, maybe, just maybe, things are changing. The good teams are still good, and those just below them are catching up, such that next year's World Cup might just be worth watching. If we forget all the stuff that's impossible to forget, obviously.
But, while we're not forgetting it, tonight we've got what ought to be an exceptional evening of football. However.