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Page last updated at 21:56 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 22:56 UK

International football as it happened



To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Jonathan Stevenson

2255: With my computer begging me for mercy and me begging it to just let me finish, it's time to bid you adieu. Thanks for your company, and commiserations if it was a bad night for your boys. Don't forget, England Women v Germany Women, tomorrow at 1700 BST. There's a trophy at stake. Night.

2251: Euro 2008 winners Spain have booked their place at the World Cup with a 3-0 victory at home to Estonia, with Juan Mata bagging a last-gasp third. If England want to win the tournament, they might just have to beat the Spaniards along the way.

2249: If you're wondering how to fill in the time in between now and Saturday, when the Premier League returns, wonder no more. For on Thursday, at 1700 BST, the England Women's team will face their German counterparts in the 2009 European Championship final. It's live on BBC Two and on this website, there is commentary on Radio 5 live sports extra and I'll be here to bring you text commentary too. Don't miss it.

2244: Apparently, this is the first time England have ever qualified for a World Cup with two games to spare. Now everyone will presume we're gonna win it in South Africa next year. We won't, though (shh, I'm tempting fate...).

2240: Spain take another giant stride towards South Africa by doubling their lead against Estonia in Merida, as Santi Cazorla makes it 2-0. See you there, La Furia Roja. See you there.

2235: Just to clarify, I'm not going anywhere until Spain 1-0 Estonia has finished - there's about 20 minutes left in that one. Remember, if the boys in red win, they go to the World Cup. I'd love to stay with you for the Argentina game later, but by then my computer will almost certainly have died. Well it will when I throw it out of this handy fifth-floor window, anyway...

England's two-goal hero Frank Lampard: "The way we played tonight typifies our campaign I think. We've got a long way to go to win the whole thing, obviously, but we've qualified and we're there. It's nice to get excited at the moment, but we know we've got a way to go."

From landofthelions on 606: "Will this put an end to debate whether Lamps and Gerrard can play well together?"
Yep. Until the next time they play together and we don't win 5-1, anyway...

England captain John Terry: "The manager stressed to us that we had to press them and we did - when we do that we're difficult to play against and that's what we're all about. It's taken a year or so to get this good and we've still got a way to go to get to where we want, but we're on the right track, definitely."

2218: Oh my God. World Cup Danny just nearly exploded. I'm not kidding. I nearly had bits of him all over me. Here's why: "It's not just about Europe tonight, World Cup fans. It's about DRAMA. MASSIVE DRAMA. In the Asia group play-off, Hamad Al-Montashari scored a 91st minute goal to put Saudi Arabia 2-1 up against Bahrain on the night, and on aggregate. But Ismail Abdullatif scored in the 94th minute to make it 2-2 - and Bahrain win on away goals. Their reward? Er, to play New Zealand in a two-legged play-off. But for the winners, there's a place at South Africa."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown: "Many congratulations to Fabio Capello and the England team for qualifying for the 2010 World Cup Finals with tonight's emphatic win against Croatia. The country looks forward to supporting the team in South Africa next summer."

From Pete, Derby, via text on 81111: "After that performance, the biggest thing England have to worry about in South Africa is District 9."

2209: This arrived a few moments ago in my inbox. Guess who it's from... "Big news for some big teams. Portugal have secured a 1-0 win in Hungary. That was more or less vital for them to keep their qualification hopes alive and it means Group One is going to be a right old tear up in October. Germany have had a rather easier 4-0 win over Azerbaijan, but Russia's win over Wales has set up a beauty of a match in October. Russia host Germany in Moscow on 10 October and the winners are probably going to win Group Four. Tasty."

England coach Fabio Capello: "I am very happy. When we started, the target was to qualify and today, the win in front of all our supporters was very important for everyone, especially the players - I'm very happy for them. The two performances against Croatia were very, very good."

2203: World Cup Danny has but a single thing on his mind right now: "Just one big match outstanding. Spain lead Estonia 1-0 at half-time and victory will see them qualify with eight wins out of eight. Just like England, just like the Netherlands."

2200: Where would we be tonight without World Cup Danny? In a Lionel Messi, frankly: "Serbia draw 1-1 with 10-man France - after having a man sent off themselves in injury time. Not an ideal result, but it leaves them in pole position to qualify from Group Seven and leaves France facing a play-off. And with the likes of Germany or Russia, Portugal and the Czech Republic all possible opponents, the French will not relish that."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley: "England take a low-key but deserved lap of honour while coach Fabio Capello is shaking hands with anyone within touching distance. And why not? This has been a job expertly done - the preparations for South Africa can begin and England will travel with high hopes."

England captain John Terry: "It feels very good, we've had some low points so it's important we enjoy today. But we're progressing how we want to progress and we know there's a lot more to come. Today we did what the manager wanted us to do."

Full time
2150: Full-time England 5-1 Croatia
Has an England team ever made qualification look so easy? A second group stage thumping of a dangerous Croatia team means Fabio Capello's boys have won eight games out of eight, and they will be at next summer's football party.


Scotland coach George Burley: "We came off with a lot of pride against the Netherlands. We deserved something from the game. We put so much into the game and got nothing out of it. I want to continue as manager Scotland."

2148: More World Cup Danny: "Italy have beaten Bulgaria 2-0. They're four points ahead of the Republic of Ireland with two matches to go - victory or a draw in their match in Ireland on 10 October will see the Azzurri qualify for South Africa."

2145: More stupidity from me, sorry - my pathetic computer crashing every minute doesn't exactly help. Anyway, Northern Ireland obviously lost 2-0 to Slovakia. They definitely didn't win. Apologies. A minute to go of normal time at Wembley.

2142: It's only Group Three World Cup Danny: "Group Three chat for you. Good news if your team's name begins with "Slo". Slovakia are huge favourites to win the group after their win over Northern Ireland. And Slovenia's 3-0 drubbing of Poland makes them favourites for the runners-up berth. But it's still an open group, and the Czech Republic will join NI and Poland in fighting for second place in a tense finale in October."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Wembley is officially in party mood. Standing ovations all round for Steven Gerrard and Aaron Lennon as they go off - and of course the biggest of all for David Beckham as he comes on. Another outstanding victory in an outstanding qualifying campaign. The arch-plotter Fabio Capello will presumably start planning for South Africa tomorrow morning - if not even later tonight."

Full time
2139: Full-time Northern Ireland 0-2 Slovakia
A qualifying setback and no mistake for Nigel Worthington's Northern Ireland, but they can have few complaints after Slovakia slowly but surely wore them down over the 90 minutes. The Slovaks stay top of Group Three and within spitting distance of South Africa 2010.

2138: England take off Aaron Lennon and Steven Gerrard, both brilliant all evening, and send on David Beckham and James Milner.

Full time
2137: Full-time Wales 1-3 Russia
Wales are officially out of the World Cup, Russia just proving too strong for them in the end at a largely empty Millennium Stadium.

Russia goal: All over in Cardiff and Wales are defeated, despite showing plenty of endeavour. Spurs striker Roman Pavlyuchenko might have made it three for the Russians shortly after coming on as substitute, his dipping 25-yard drive fizzing against the crossbar but then did so after collecting a loose ball and drilling a low left-foot shot across the goal and into the far corner.

England goal: That sums up Croatia's night. Ivica Krizanac passes the ball back to keeper Vedran Runje and he mis-kicks horrifically, slicing it to Wayne Rooney 12 yards out, the Manchester United striker gleefully slotting into an empty net.

2134: GOAL England 5-1 Croatia

2134: GOAL Wales 1-3 Russia

Scotland captain Darren Fletcher: "We should have second place wrapped up. It was a disappointing campaign. All the players have to look at themselves - there was a lot of effort tonight but we have to produce that effort in all the games."

2131: It is of course England 4-1 Croatia. Silly Stevo.

Croatia goal: England switch off and pay the price - despite watching his team qualify for the World Cup, Fabio Capello is furious. Glen Johnson is done down the England right and a cross is headed goalwards by Eduardo, Robert Green making a brilliant save. Darijo Srna's rebound is well-saved by Green, but Eduardo slams in the second rebound.

2128: GOAL England 4-1 Croatia

2128: More Scotland heartbreak, courtesy of World Cup Danny: "So Norway beat Macedonia 2-1 and claim second spot in group nine, sealing Scotland's exit from the competition. The Norwegians probably won't be celebrating too hard - their 10-point haul may well leave them as the weakest runners-up, meaning they will miss the play-offs."

2126: Not long left at Windsor Park and Northern Ireland's hopes look like they are going the same way at Scotland's. They are losing 2-0 to Slovakia.

England goal: Whatever you can do, Lamps... Steven Gerrard gets his second of the night and it is party time at Wembley - I'll bet even the corporate boys are watching now. Gerrard clips one over the top into the box for Wayne Rooney to run on to, Rooney lobs the cross up to the penalty spot and Gerrard is on hand to thump a header over the keeper and defenders and into the net. It's a drubbing.

2123: GOAL England 4-0 Croatia

From Jorge in Luton, via text on 81111: "Not wishing to jump the gun here but - Strachan for the Scotland job, please! He wouldn't allow some the poor performances we had in this campaign."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Great refereeing by Fermin Martinez Ibanez of Spain, playing the advantage to allow Frank Lampard to head home from Glen Johnson's cross. England have been outstanding tonight and could not have booked their tickets to South Africa in more emphatic style. Fabio Capello's qualifying campaign has been a complete triumph."

Full time
2119: Full-time Scotland 0-1 Netherlands
Fabulous effort from the Scots - they had enough chances to win the game, but just couldn't quite get the goal their first-half play deserved. However, we don't know for sure that they are out yet. Keep you posted.

Someone has struck the woodwork
2117: Derry City winger Niall McGinn almost 'does a Holosko' but the sub's whipped shot from outside the area clips off the angle of post and bar. Not Northern Ireland's night, I would suggest.

2117: We're into injury time at Hampden Park and Scotland's World Cup dream looks over for another four years.

England goal: You can book your ticket to South Africa now, because that's a wrap. Steven Gerrard picks out Glen Johnson down the right and after some Robinho-esque step-overs he sends over a brilliant cross that Frank Lampard expertly heads into the far corner.

2116: GOAL England 3-0 Croatia

Russia goal: Big goal for the Russians as Sergei Ignashevich's low free-kick from the edge of the area creeps through the wall into the corner.

2114: GOAL Wales 1-2 Russia

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live's Chris Waddle: "It's not like the first half. England have definitely stepped off the gas but it's up to Croatia to take the game on."

2112: Me and World Cup Danny just had a row. Only a little one, mind. We've made up now and here he is: "The tiniest, tiniest glimmer of hope for Scotland. Boban Grncarov has made it Norway 2-1 Macedonia - if Macedonia draw, then Scotland do finish second in their group (although there's a big chance they will not make the play-offs)."

Slovakia goal: He's only been on the pitch a matter of minutes but Filip Holosko could just have put Northern Ireland's qualifying hopes to bed. The big frontman latches on to a ball over the top, gets the better of Aaron Hughes and drills into the corner. Moments earlier Martin Patterson was denied by a smart stop from keeper Jan Mucha at the other end - pretty much the game in a nutshell."

2110: GOAL Northern Ireland 0-2 Slovakia

2110: In Cardiff, David Edwards battles through and the loose ball breaks to give him a clear shot at goal, but his effort is blocked and the rebound hooked off the line by Sergei Semak.

Holland goal: Devastating. David Weir cannot deal with a long Dutch punt and inadvertently heads the ball into the path of substitute Eljero Elia, who runs into the area and clumsily rounds keeper David Marshall before slotting in. Stunned silence reigns.

2107: GOAL Scotland 0-1 Netherlands

2107: Notts County director of football Sven-Goran Eriksson is in the stands at Wembley. Wonder who he's watching?

From Silence on 606: "Scotland have had enough chances to win this, the Dutch have been passive, there can be no complaints if they fail to score. The chances have been there, the quality finishing hasn't."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley: "England were out well before Croatia for the start of the second half. Keen to finish the job. Would do Emile Heskey's confidence the power of good if he can get on the scoresheet in the second half. Croatia have shown nothing to suggest they are in any way capable of producing the sort of turnaround they require here."

2102: Mladen Petric comes on for Ivica Olic at Wembley. Meanwhile Shaun Maloney is flagged for offside at Hampden, but he was miles on. He fluffed the chance anyway. Back under way at Wembley, with the corporate boys still stuffing their faces. Any danger of watching your boys qualify for the World Cup? No? Clowns.

2100: His fingers must be burning. It's World Cup Danny: "It's finished Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-1 Turkey. The most notable thing about this is that it means Spain will qualify if they beat Estonia tonight. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan have cemented their status as undisputed fifth-best team in England's group, with a 3-1 win away at Andorra. And Israel have gone goal crazy, smashing Luxembourg 7-0."

2058: Mistake by Slovakia defender Martin Skrtel under pressure from Martin Patterson, but the Northern Ireland man cannot force the ball home from 12 yards as keeper Jan Mucha closes him down bravely and clears the danger.

Wales goal: Didn't see that coming, did you? Craig Bellamy swings over a corner from the right and James Collins gets to the front post first to flick the ball with his right foot inside the near post. Blow for the Russians, that.

2056: GOAL Wales 1-1 Russia

2055: A ball is pumped into the Holland box and Steven Naismith cannot get his shot away but it falls for Kenny Miller, who sees his snap-shot squirm out of Michel Vorm's grasp and squirt wide of the far post. Agony.

From Steve in the Alps, via text on 81111: "Watching France live at the moment. Went 1-0 down to a dubious penalty and had their keeper sent off. Irony is Arsene Wenger moaning about diving! Les Bleus fighting back with goal from Henry. Anelka on fire. End to end stuff."

BBC Sport's Keir Murray: "The Tartan Army are urging a change in tactics now that Scotland have failed to breach the Dutch net with their brand of, um, Total Football. 'Get intae them!' is the chant, which suggests more direct, aggressive play might produce a precious goal."

2053: Scotland send Kris Commons on for Paul Hartley. Good change, that.

2051: World Cup Danny has got some World Cup news I can barely believe: "Oh my. That, World Cup fans, is the sound of an enormous Albanian cat being released amidst the Euro qualifying Group One pigeons. Yes, Albania 1-1 Denmark is the latest, and suddenly it's all starting to look a little bit Group of Death-y... It could be any two from Denmark, Hungary, Sweden and Portugal to qualify."

2050: Scotland hanging on by a thread at the moment - Wesley Sniejder plays the ball to Arjen Robben, who turns Alan Hutton in the box only to see his eight-yard shot palmed away by David Marshall.

2049: They are back under way in the Northern Ireland and Wales games.

Yellow card
2048: Dirk Kuyt should have scored for the Dutch. Wesley Sneijder's corner from the right finds the head of the Liverpool forward who directs the ball two yards over the bar. Moments later, Kuyt is booked for diving. This issue's gonna rumble on and on, isn't it?

Half time
2046: Half-time England 2-0 Croatia
I don't think anyone inside Wembley could have dared it would be so easy. England have been superb in every department, but this is not the same Croatia team we saw two years ago. Not even close.

2044: Croatia give the ball away again and Frank Lampard plays in Emile Heskey - he's absolutely got to score the England striker, but he completely messes up the chance and the opportunity goes begging. Not sure whether to use the word 'striker' next time...

2043: A much quieter start to the second half at Hampden, with the Dutch enjoying most of the possession. They have scored in their last 25 games, Netherlands.

2042: England rip Croatia apart again as Aaron Lennon cuts in off the right and clips a pass in for Emile Heskey, but the big man slams his shot straight at the visiting keeper. Moments later, Frank Lampard blazes over from the edge of the box.

From cruyff_wannabe on 606: "England are looking very good attacking on the right, but seem lacking on the left. Hopefully Joe Cole can make the difference once he's back to full fitness, maybe give him a little time in the last qualifier?"

2038: England are rampant. Meanwhile, World Cup Danny keeps his eye on the other games: "What a goal that is for Thierry Henry. The former Arsenal man nets to make it Serbia 1-1 France. A draw would still leave the Serbs as favourites to qualify from Group Seven, but France would retain hopes of grabbing top spot."

From Matt in Hertford, via text on 81111: "Stevie G must have his Liverpool shirt on underneath his England one! Get in!"

2034: Trequartista extraordinaire tonight Wayne Rooney slips in another fabulous pass for Aaron Lennon and his shot is saved by Vedran Runje, who has ensued Croatia have not been disgraced so far.

Half time
2032: Half-time Wales 0-1 Russia
Andrey Arshavin almost inspired a second with another devilish run and he is pulling the strings for the Russians. Wayne Hennessey has made several fine saves to keep Wales in it.

Half time
2031: Half-time Northern Ireland 0-1 Slovakia
They've dominated possession and played the match at approximately 437mph, but Northern Ireland go into the break trailing to a workmanlike, disciplined Slovakia side. Work to do for Nigel Worthington's men.

2031: The second half starts at Hampden Park. The biggest 45 minutes of George Burley's managerial career.

BBC Radio 5 live
Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live: "Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said this side had lost their Englishness. Well, feed the ball wide and head in a goal at the far post - you don't get much more English than that."

2028: Frank Lampard lets fly with a 35-yard free-kick and it's swerving all over the place - Vedran Runje does really well to acrobatically parry it away. It's all England.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Aaron Lennon has spotted that potential vacancy on England's right-flank next summer and is making his pitch. A brilliant start for the Spurs winger, winning a penalty and setting up the second for Steven Gerrard. Lennon has often been criticised for a lack of end product but not tonight. He is taking Croatia to the cleaners. Poor old Slaven Bilic looks a bewildered man in his technical area because this is light years away from Croatia's last Wembley experience."

Russia goal: Cracking stuff from the Russians and they take a deserved lead after Wales' bright start. Andrey Arshavin is unsurprisingly the architect, cutting in from the right and slipping in a fabulous ball for Igor Semshov to drill a low shot into the far corner. Superb goal.

2022: GOAL Wales 0-1 Russia

2022: World Cup Danny, who cannot get enough of this great night: "Huge news from Serbia, where the hosts are playing France. Hugo Lloris has been sent off for the visitors. And now the 10 men trail 1-0 to their hosts, after Nenad Milijas slots in a 13th-minute penalty. As it stands, Serbia are qualifying for South Africa tonight."

2020: WCD: "Get excited, Denmark fans. Nicklas Bendtner has put your boys 1-0 up in Albania. If Denmark win and Portugal go on to beat Hungary (they lead 1-0), then the Danes can seal qualification with a draw in their next match against Sweden on 10 October."

BBC Sport's Keir Murray at Hampden:"I can't help thinking that astonishing miss by Kenny Miller/great save by Michel Vorm will become a JFK moment in Scottish football history, as in 'Where were you when Miller missed that tap-in?'"

England goal: Great, great long-range one-two - and England have one foot in South Africa. Steven Gerrard, 35 yards out, sprays the play out to the right to the unbelievably dangerous Aaron Lennon, and the Spurs man's floated cross to the back stick is headed into the far corner by that man Gerrard. Wonderful stuff.

2017: GOAL England 2-0 Croatia

Half time
2015: Half-time Scotland 0-0 Netherlands
Cracking game at Hampden and the Scots could so easily be winning, having struck the woodwork twice. Keep the faith.

2014: That's the closest Northern Ireland have come to a goal - and an equaliser - as David Healy dashes on to a training-ground free-kick manoeuvre and lashes a drilled effort a matter of inches wide.

BBC Radio 5 live
Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live: "It is a tremendous start for England. Croatia are nowhere near the team they were a year or two ago and this is a great chance for England to cement their place at the World Cup."

2012: Aaron Lennon knocks the ball back to the edge of the box and Gareth Barry slams a left-foot shot that is heading for the far corner, until Vedran Runje gets across to parry it away to safety. Fabulous save.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley: "No need to talk about a dive there. Aaron Lennon well and truly upended by Josip Simunic and Frank Lampard's penalty was as emphatic as ever. Fast start by England - just what was required - and Croatia simply haven't got on the ball yet. Wembley loud and happy."

Someone has struck the woodwork
2010: Scotland go perilously close twice. Steven Naismith's low strike from 20 yards is palmed on to the post by Michel Vorm, then Kenny Miller pounces on the loose ball but his shot from four yards is saved again by keeper Vorm.

BBC Sport's Keir Murray at Hampden: "The noise level is reaching ear-shattering levels as, somehow, the Dutch look a tiny bit rattled at the back. Kenny Miller's shot off the bar has the Tartan Army rocking..."

England goal: Great start from England and they get the goal they deserved. Aaron Lennon controls a pass down the right and speeds into the box, only to be clumsily brought down by Josip Simunic. Stonewaller. Frank Lampard steps up and coolly slots it into the corner.

2006: GOAL England 1-0 Croatia


2005: More from World Cup Danny: "Some big goals to tell you about elsewhere. Slovenia lead Poland 1-0, and as it stands, they'll be going ahead of Northern Ireland in Group Three. Meanwhile Pepe has headed Portugal into the lead in Hungary. A potentially massive strike, that. And Fabio Grosso has put Italy 1-0 up against Bulgaria."

2003: Steven Gerrard thinks he should have a penalty after latching on to Frank Lampard's ball into the Croatia area but it would have been extremely harsh - however, the hosts have started very brightly at Wembley.

Slovakia goal: CameronCFC told us to look out for him (below) and Vladimir Weiss has lived up to the billing with a terrific run down the right, ghosting past Jonny Evans as if the defender wasn't even there, and putting the ball on a sixpence for Stanislav Sestak to tap in from a yard out. Against the run of play that, too.

2001: GOAL Northern Ireland 0-1 Slovakia

Someone has struck the woodwork
2000: Incredible stuff at Hampden as Scott Brown plays Kenny Miller into the area down the right and his dipping volley from the angle crashes against the crossbar. Meanwhile, we're under way at Wembley.

1957: Lovely move from Holland right from the back and they carve Scotland open with their sheer pace - Robin van Persie slips in Arjen Robben, but his shot is comfortably saved by David Marshall.

1956: It's goalless in the three games that have started and the anthems are done at Wembley, we're close to getting under way.

1954: Holland's Wesley Sneijder catches one right out of the sweet spot from 25 yards and forces David Marshall to make a decent flying save.

1952: The teams are out at Wembley. The players are shaking hands with Lord Triesman again - frankly that's just pathetic. Wouldn't they rather meet Usain Bolt?

1951: Full-time in Belarus 0-0 Ukraine - England only need a draw tonight to qualify for the World Cup finals. Meanwhile, my mate in Cardiff reckons there might be more journalists at the Millennium Stadium than fans. Sad scenes.

1949: By the way, the Football Association's guest of honour at Wembley tonight is triple Olympic and World champion Usain Bolt, surely the fastest man who will ever walk this earth? Hopefully, Usain will be the dude shaking hands with the players before kick-off - it was Lord Triesman on Saturday. Exactly.

Yellow card
1948: Spikey. Robin van Persie (of Arsenal) nails Darren Fletcher (of Manchester United) in the middle of the pitch and picks up a booking for his endeavours. There was some previous in that one.

1947: Northern Ireland have the first half-chance of the game as David Healy's snap-shot from the edge of the area is easily saved.

1946: They are under way in the Northern Ireland and Wales matches. It's rocking at Windsor Park.

From DrWartHoover on 606: "Belarus holding Ukraine at 0-0... if it stays that way, that means England only need a draw tonight to qualify."

1943: World Cup Danny latest: "Thorstein Helstad has put Norway 1-0 up against Macedonia after just two minutes. Not a huge deal for Scotland, but if George Burley's men lose, it will mean Norway grab second place, definitely putting them out. Norway's record means they're also unlikely to get a play-off spot."

1941: England v Croatia line-ups:
England: Green, Johnson, Terry, Upson, Ashley Cole, Lennon, Barry, Lampard, Gerrard, Rooney, Heskey.
Subs: Foster, Brown, Bridge, Milner, Defoe, Beckham, Crouch.
Croatia: Runje, Srna, Krizanac, Simunic, Pranjic, Mandzukic, Vukojevic, Pokrivac, Kranjcar, Eduardo, Olic.
Subs: Subasic, Drpic, Cale, Rakitic, Petric, Leko, Klasnic.
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)

1939: "Scotland's Euro 96 Gazza," says my colleague, and he might just be right. An Alan Hutton cross from the left evades the Dutch defender and Scott Brown, straining every sinew, can only deflect it just wide on the slide from six yards. Heartbreakingly close.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live's Chris Waddle: "Without Rio Ferdinand and maybe the goalkeeper this is England's strongest side. If England get after Croatia from the off there is no reason why they can't get a good result."

Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington: "It's more about relaxation tonight, rather than pressure. They know the position we're in and it's about going out and doing our jobs properly. If we do that we'll get a result, I'm sure."

1937: Half-chance for Scotland now, as Kenny Miller's shot is deflected over the Dutch bar by Andre Ooijer.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1935: First scare for Scotland as Dirk Kuyt cuts inside and fires a right-foot shot against David Marshall's left-hand post from outside the area. The sound of leather on woodwork will have sent a shiver down the home fans' collective spines.

1934: Wales v Russia line-ups:
Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Collins, Williams, Gabbidon, Ricketts, Edwards, Stock, Ramsey, Ledley, Bellamy.
Subs: Myhill, Eardley, Cotterill, Morgan, Evans, Vokes, Earnshaw.
Russia: Akinfeev, Aniukov, Ignashevich, Vasili Berezutsky, Semshov, Arshavin, Semak, Yanbaev, Bystrov, Kerzhakov, Zyryanov.
Subs: Gabulov, Rebko, Alexei Berezutsky, Dzagoev, Pavlyuchenko, Pogrebniak, Bilyaletdinov.
Referee: Manuel de Sousa (Portugal)

1933: World Cup Danny (he's on fire): "Goodness me, is Sweden's name on the World Cup already? Ian Azzopardi's 81st-minute own goal gives them a fortuitous and slender 1-0 win away at minnows Malta. This, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted a crucial 93rd-minute winner against Hungary on Saturday. They couldn't be cutting it any finer, but somehow - somehow - they are keeping themselves right in the qualification mixer."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Great reception for England as they come out to warm up. A big response from the noisy and colourful Croatian contingent though as their team joins Fabio Capello's side on the Wembley turf. No sign of rain so no brolly for Capello. The first round of jeers is heard as Arsenal striker Eduardo's name is read out."

1930: Scotland and the Netherlands are under way at Hampden Park. Massive.

From Nick in Belfast, via text on 81111: "Working in a restaurant in Belfast and the place is dead, everyone is crammed into bars everywhere - have never seen the country like this before. All the best to the boys in green and white!!"

1927: Hampden is not nearly full with reports that there are large queues of fans at Central Station in the centre of Glasgow and cars and buses held up in traffic jams heading for the stadium. Fifa had ruled that the game should start half an hour earlier than first planned to coincide with the game in Norway, but the message does not seem to have got through to many fans.

1924: Northern Ireland v Slovakia line-ups:
Northern Ireland: Taylor, McAuley, Craigan, Hughes, Evans, Johnson, McCann, Clingan, Davis, Paterson, Healy.
Subs: Tuffey, McGivern, Baird, McGinn, Ward, Brunt, Kee.
Slovakia: Mucha, Strba, Pekarik, Skrtel, Zabavnik, Durica, Weiss, Kopunek, Sestak, Stoch, Vittek.
Subs: Kamenar, Cech, Holosko, Jendrisek, Pecalka, Salata.
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)

1922: Wales hand a debut to Doncaster midfielder Brian Stock, at the age of 27 - he is the 37th new cap in John Toshack's 46th game in charge. Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin is back for Russia, while Tottenham's Roman Pavlyuchenko, who scored two on Saturday, is dropped to the bench.

1920: Wales team to face Russia: Hennessey, Gunter, Williams, Collins, Gabbidon, Ricketts, Ledley, Edwards, Stock, Ramsey, Bellamy.

1919: Scotland v Netherlands line-ups:
Scotland: Marshall, Hutton, Weir, McManus, Whittaker, Hartley, Naismith, Brown, Darren Fletcher, Maloney, Miller.
Subs: Neil Alexander, Graham Alexander, Gary Caldwell, O'Connor, Steven Fletcher, Commons, Rae.
Holland: Vorm, Van Der Wiel, Ooijer, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, Sneijder, De Zeeuw, De Jong, Robben, van Persie, Kuyt.
Subs: Velthuizen, Heitinga, Schaars, Braafheid, Van der Vaart, Elia, Huntelaar.
Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark)

1916: Scotland v Holland starts at 1930 BST, Northern Ireland v Slovakia and Wales v Russia at 1945 and England v Croatia at 2000.

1914: He's over-excited is World Cup Danny, bless 'im: "It's not significant in terms of qualifying, but big Danny love to the Faroe Islands who have grabbed their first win in Group Seven by seeing off Lithuania 2-1. Meanwhile, Turkey are 1-0 up against Bosnia-Herzegovina - not only is that a massive boost for them, but a Turkish win opens the way for Spain to qualify tonight."

Scotland boss George Burley: "We're going to fight tooth and nail right to the end to get the three points. You pick a team to win the match and that's what we've done tonight. We aim to show we want it more than them. It'll be an open game because they won't come and defend. I think it'll be a cracking game. I believe the longer the game goes, we'll get stronger and I'm not so sure whether Holland will."

1907: So, Northern Ireland make just the one change for the clash against group leaders Slovakia, with Burnley striker Martin Paterson coming in for the injured Kyle Lafferty.

1905: NI team to face Slovakia: Taylor, McAuley, Evans, Hughes (capt), Craigan, Clingan, McCann, Johnson, Davis, Healy, Paterson.

From Spudface in Belfast, via text on 81111: "Northern Ireland to win at fortress Windsor, England 3-0 stroll, the Scots to nick a sneaky 1-0 win and the Welsh to snatch a draw. A great night ahead for the home teams, and it's all so tense. We're loving it here in Norn Iron!"

1859: England team to play Croatia: Green; Johnson, Upson, Terry, Cole; Lennon, Barry, Lampard, Gerrard; Rooney, Heskey.
Subs: Foster, Brown, Bridge, Milner, Defoe, Beckham, Crouch.

From CameronCFC on 606: "I'd scrap any thoughts of a Northern Ireland victory. I watched Slovakia's game against Czech Republic and they were pretty much the dominant team throughout. The one man to look for on their team is Vladimir Weiss, a youngster for Man City, who was their main engine against Czech Republic."

1853: More from World Cup Danny: "Here's a full-time score for you - Armenia 2-1 Belgium. Belgium notched with the last kick of the game, but it was not enough to deny Armenia their first win in their Group Five campaign. And it means that Belgium are officially out of World Cup 2010. Elsewhere, it's Belarus 0-0 Ukraine - good news for England as it means a draw will be enough tonight. And Sweden are still being held 0-0 by minnows Malta. Potentially disastrous for Zlatan and the boys, that."

1848: Let's chuck some Northern Ireland team news in there - Saturday's goalscoring hero Kyle Lafferty will miss their crucial match against Slovakia with a knee injury. Burnley striker Martin Paterson, who missed two gilt-edged chances in the second half against Poland, will be eyeing redemption tonight.

1844: Wesley Sneijder has recovered from an injury picked up in Saturday's friendly win over Japan to start in the Netherlands midfield against the Scots. But goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg has a finger injury so Michel Vorm starts, with Piet Velthuizen on the bench.

1842: The more observant among you will have noticed that the date today is 09/09/09. No, it doesn't mean that the world is about to end, so you can all just calm down. Earlier, however, a mate told me that if she had been alive, his granny would have been exactly 100 years old today. Strangely, I found that pretty interesting.

From Sakaria2 on 606: "Capello always plays one big man with a technical player behind him. Personally, I think Rooney should be the main striker up front and let Defoe play beside him. But let us not question the Great Capello One, he always knows best."

From Graham, Hampden, via text on 81111: "Atmosphere is already building up. Lots of friendly banter outside the ground and the Dutch are here in force. Scotland to win, 2-1. Come on Scotland!!"

1830: Scotland suffered a blow ahead of kick-off against the Netherlands with goalkeeper Craig Gordon failing a late fitness test, so David Marshall comes into the starting line-up. Rangers forward Steven Naismith surprisingly wins his first start playing wide on the right in place of Steven Fletcher, while Paul Hartley wins the holding midfielder role ahead of Graham Alexander and Shaun Maloney starts in place of suspended talisman James McFadden. Meanwhile, Steven Whittaker starts at left-back after impressing against Macedonia as a replacement for the injured Callum Davidson.

1828: Definitely worth mentioning that Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky made his first competitive appearance in 20 months when he played 56 minutes of the Czech's 7-0 win against San Marino. It's great to have the gifted midfield schemer back.

1825: Danny tells me that it's currently 0-0 at half-time in the Malta v Sweden match. That is a potential hammer blow for the Scandinavians' World Cup hopes after they were rescued on Saturday by Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fortuitous last-gasp winner.

1823: So, who will start for England tonight? Effectively, Fabio Capello is deciding between Emile Heskey and Jermain Defoe to partner Wayne Rooney up front. It's a no-brainer for me - on Saturday Heskey kept falling over, while Defoe smashed one in from 20 yards. Go figure.

1819: He's here all night, is World Cup Danny: "The Czech Republic's 7-0 win over San Marino was as vital as it was expected and it keeps them in the mix in Group Three - which is shaping up to be the tensest of the European groups. We'll know more about the lie of the land after tonight's other matches, including the vital Northern Ireland v Slovakia tie."

From Luke, Moira, Northern Ireland, via text on 81111: "I'm heading to the Northern Ireland match in an hour and I've never seen this country so excited. Grown men's nerves are frayed to the point that I've heard rumours of sleepless nights. It'll be tight, but I reckon a 2-0 win and the ticket to South Africa."

1811: As always, the amateur psychologists have been out in force, haven't they Slaven? "They are missing some Englishness, some of the things that have always made England teams difficult to play against," said Croatia coach Bilic on Monday, only 363 days after his team had been ruthlessly demolished in their own backyard by this same England team. Fabio Capello's response? "Thank you Mr Bilic. There is no need to motivate my players now." Paid £6m-a-year and he doesn't even need to do his job. Sweet.

1806: Fans of games kicking off might like to know that Belarus v Ukraine has started in Minsk. Anything other than a victory for the visitors would mean England only have to draw tonight to qualify for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

From Chip it like Vela on 606: "A cursory look at some of your predos for the key games tells me you've gone for a mix of pragmatism (France to draw and England to eke out a scratchy win) and fantasy (Portugal winning and Italy scoring twice... haha)."

1800: World Cup Danny has been casting his eye over the host continent, and my what a story is unfolding: "Vital, vital win for Cameroon today, beating Gabon 2-1 in Africa Group A qualifying. Jean Makoun and Samuel Eto'o put Cameroon 2-0 before Daniel Cousin's late goal set up a nervy finish. That win puts Cameroon one point above Gabon, but with two matches to go, any one of the four teams (Togo and Morocco are also in there) could still grab top spot to qualify."

1754: And as always, you have your part to play on such a potentially monumental evening. You can do this by texting us on 81111, and by joining in with the fun on 606. Whether you're from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales or Outer Mongolia, your country needs you.

1752: It really is permutation o'clock. For your sake and mine, be thankful that Danny the Stat - football's very own Vorderman, numerically speaking (he's not wearing a dress and he hasn't got an ill-advised fringe) - will be here all night to hit us with updates from around Europe, and what those updates mean. If anyone even gets close to qualifying/not qualifying, World Cup Danny will be all over it like a rash.

1748: Here's what we're playing for in a Danny the Stat-shaped nutshell: "England will qualify if they beat Croatia, or if they draw and Ukraine fail to beat Belarus. Scotland need a draw at home to Holland to ensure they finish second in their group, though they might need to win to make sure of a play-off place. That, we may not find out tonight. If Northern Ireland beat Slovakia, they go top of Group Three, but there's still a bit to go in that one."

1745: For England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, today is a pivotal day in their respective bids to reach the finals of the greatest sporting tournament on earth in South Africa next summer. For Wales, I'm afraid, once again it's a case of gazing into the crystal ball...

1742: You can win all the Premier League titles, FA Cups and Champions League trophies you want - but true greatness in football always has been, and always will be measured by World Cup success. You just have to make sure you get there, first.

From Jamie, via text on 81111: "Czech Republic already 4-0 up? Is this the earliest your predos have gone south?"

1735: Disclaimer alert:
"I can confirm that Stevo made all of these 'predos' before any of the matches kicked off."
Yours in sport, World Cup Danny.
That's better. Now, on with the show...

1733: Stevo's inordinately long Predos (in order of chronology, in case you were wondering at the apparent haphazardness):
Czech Rep 3-0 San Marino
Armenia 1-2 Belgium
Faroe Islands 0-1 Lithuania
Belarus 1-1 Ukraine
Malta 0-3 Sweden
Liechtenstein 0-2 Finland
Israel 2-1 Luxembourg
Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-2 Turkey
Andorra 0-1 Kazakhstan
Albania 0-2 Denmark
Moldova 0-2 Greece
Latvia 1-1 Switzerland
SCOTLAND 1-2 Netherlands
Norway 1-1 Macedonia
Hungary 1-3 Portugal
N IRELAND 2-1 Slovakia
Slovenia 1-1 Poland
WALES 0-2 Russia
Romania 2-1 Austria
Italy 2-1 Bulgaria
ENGLAND 2-1 Croatia
Serbia 1-1 France
Montenegro 2-2 Cyprus
Germany 5-0 Azerbaijan
Spain 6-1 Estonia

1730: Um, just bear with me a second, would you...?

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see also
International football photos
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Who has qualified for South Africa 2010?
19 Nov 09 |  World Cup 2010
Football on the BBC
11 Aug 10 |  Football

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