Germany and Italy qualify for World Cup 2010

Italian players celebrating Gilardinho's late goal to qualify Italy for World Cup 2010

World Champions Italy qualified for next year’s World Cup in South Africa after earning a last-gasp 2-2 draw in Ireland. The Republic took the lead through midfielder Glenn Whelan in the eighth minute. Juventus winger Mauro Camoranesi equalised for the Azzurri in the 26th minute.

Ireland regained the lead in the 87th minute through Sean St Ledger. It looked like the Irish could take all three points before Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino pounced with a last minute equaliser. The former AC Milan stars effort was enough to secure the World Champions passage to next year’s World Cup in South Africa. The home side will now have to settle for a place in the play-offs. They could face a tough tie though with the likes of Portugal and France likely opponents.

Germany booked their ticket for next year’s tournament with a hard fought 1-0 victory over group rivals Russia in Moscow. It was a close game with both sides having their chances but veteran striker Miroslav Klose scored the only goal of the game in the first half.

The Russians pushed forward but couldn’t find a way past a stubborn defence. Germany had debutant defender Jerome Boateng dismissed in the 69th minute. However the Germans held on to the win and qualify as winners of the group. Russia now face a play-off where they will most likely be seeded.

In the big clash of the Scandinavians Denmark defeated Sweden 1-0 in Copenhagen to qualify. The only goal came from Jakob Poulsen in the 78th minute. Sweden now find themselves third in the group after Portugal beat Hungary 3-0 at home. The Portuguese are favourites to get the play-off place as they face group strugglers Malta in their last game.

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