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Page last updated at 20:02 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 21:02 UK

World Cup qualifiers as they happened

SATURDAY'S WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
FYR Macedonia 1-0 Scotland MATCH REPORT
Wales 1-0 Azerbaijan MATCH REPORT
Slovakia 2-1 Northern Ireland MATCH REPORT
Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland MATCH REPORT
Andorra 0-2 England MATCH REPORT

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times BST)

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

By Jonathan Stevenson

2100: There we are then. Doesn't look like it'll be a smooth route to South Africa for anyone after today, does it? That's it from me, thanks a load for your company over the past seven-and-a-half hours and 9,000 words, you've been an awful lot better than most of the home nations. Join Alan Green for 606 now on BBC Radio 5 Live and join me again on Wednesday when we go again. It's 0-0. Cheers.

2057: "Well, England got there in the end, but it is difficult to see Croatia coach Slaven Bilic suffering a sleepless night after that.

"England were dreadful in the first 45 minutes and Capello's decision to play Stewart Downing ahead of Joe Cole was, with the benefit of hindsight, a bad mistake.

"Bigger performances will be needed from players like Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney in Zagreb, but they were not the only guilty parties because large portions of this display were simply not good enough.

"Capello's post-match verdict will be intriguing because he spent the second half looking like he had just swallowed a wasp."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Barcelona

2055: "To be fair, apart from the Republic of Ireland the other nations have played rubbish and are going have to do far better on Wednesday night."
MadMilburn on 606
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2053: "I can see why the BBC didn't get the rights to these qualifiers, what a waste of licence fee payers' money!"
Andy, via text

2051: Lawro on 5 Live is saying there seems to have been a bit of an argument between Capello and Joe Cole on the touchline. Lawro reckons Capello had a go at Cole for something, and Cole had a go back. Watch this space...

2050: "They did enough. Theo Walcott and Glen Johnson were bright at times, but well done to Fabio Capello for making those changes at half-time. Once again, however, there are more questions than answers ahead of the Croatia game on Wednesday."
BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Mark Lawrenson

2048: Full-time Andorra 0-2 England

2047: Joleon Lescott gets down the left and his cross is half-cleared to Joe Cole on the edge of the box, but he cannot complete his hat-trick as his goalbound shot is bravely blocked. Stevo's 3-0 predo suffers a late hammer blow.

2043: David Beckham seems to be playing as a sweeper. I don't really know what to add to that.

2042: Five minutes left in Barcelona. For that, we should all be grateful.

2041: "I've just realised that reading the live text by Stevo is more entertaining than watching the game live! Worrying..."
Anonymous, via text

Very worrying.

2040: "Could be worse... we could be French."
dirkwearsredsocks on 606
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2035: Frank Lampard is taken off after another sub-Chelsea performance and David Beckham gets almost the biggest cheer of the night, winning his 104th cap in the process.

2034: Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez has been sent off for violent conduct for Argentina, with the Argies 1-0 down at home to Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier. Another biggie, I think you'll agree.

2032: I haven't been keeping you up to date with all the other qualifiers, but here's one that stands out a mile - remarkably, France are 2-0 down to Austria, thanks to Marc Janko and a William Gallas own goal. Jeeps.

2030: "A shirt-sleeved Capello is on the touchline and is furious with his side for a bout of passing along the half-way line - gesticulating angrily at his players to get the ball forward quicker.

"One sideways pass too many brings an enraged slapping together of his hands as he turns his back on the game. Not a happy Fabio."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Barcelona

Crikey. Can you imagine Arsene Wenger hammering his players for a bout of passing?

2029: "Everyone asks 'why can't these England players play as well for England as they do for their clubs?' which I agree with. But why can't Joe Cole play for Chelsea like he does for England?!"
ChelseaTim, via text

2027: "Joe Cole has brought England to life with the sort on ingenuity they were crying out for in the first half. He must have played himself into the team for Zagreb on Wednesday. They will need all the invention they can muster against Croatia and Cole has provided it here.

"Next target for England and Capello is topping the 3-0 win here 18 months ago. One thing Andorra are not short of is aggression and spirit. They don't mind a tackle and few words."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Barcelona

2025: Wayne Rooney gets a big cheer from the England fans for a crunching - and fair - challenge by the left touchline. But apart from his fine pass for Joe Cole's second goal, he's been a bit disppointing again. He really should be getting on the scoresheet against teams like this.

2023: "Not everything was perfect but the wise among us can see a right team coming together piece by piece. This side playing now will beat Croatia."
Hands_of_Friedel on 606
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An optimist in a sea of pessimists.

2018: Glen Johnson thought he had scored his first goal for England, but Joe Cole deflects his shot in from an offside position and the goal is ruled out.

2016: "And Joe Cole shows us why he is the best player in an England shirt once again."
Adam in Darlington, via text

2014: Glen Johnson shoots from the right-hand edge of the penalty area, but Alvarez gets behind it and makes a comfortable save. Extraordinary hair, Johnson's sporting at the moment.

2013: "Capello's message was short and sweet at half-time - it must have been judging by the sight of England's players standing around for several minutes like naughty schoolboys waiting for Andorra to rejoin them.

"It worked with that opening goal from substitute Joe Cole and at least saved Capello from the rank indignity of watching his side take longer to break down Andorra than Steve McClaren's version did 18 months ago.

"I think you call that being thankful for small mercies."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Barcelona

2011: GOAL Andorra 0-2 England
Or should I say Andorra 0-2 Joe Cole? Wayne Rooney, on the edge of the box, plays a gorgeous reverse pass into the box, through the legs of an Andorra defender, for Joe Cole to run on to and slot into the net.

2008: "Why oh why can we not beat part-timers? Wish I could be watching the match but I'm in Santiago. Still, at least I'm going to see Chile vs Brazil tomorrow... should be a bit more entertaining."
jdenn8661 on 606
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Lucky so and so.

2007: Has Fabio Capello just learned that you do not, under any circumstances, rest players for competitive international matches? You know, he might just have.

2004: GOAL Andorra 0-1 England
Joe Cole smashes the ball into the net from six yards after Frank Lampard's long free-kick into the box hits Joleon Lescott and ricochets up for Cole.

2001: Oh thank goodness. Emile Heskey and Joe Cole have been sent on by Fabio Capello, with Stewart Downing and Jermain Defoe deservedly taken off. Back under way in Barcelona.

1959: Such doom and gloom. I wonder what's on BBC One...

1957: "Come on then Fabio, now's when you earn that huge wage of yours."
no-one important on 606
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1953: "It's hard to find the words to describe that - although England's fans do not appear to be having too much difficulty as they deliver a resounding raspberry in the direction of their struggling players. It was a desperately witless first 45 minutes from Fabio Capello's side.

"England did not have a player capable of producing the guile needed to break down the massed Andorra defence and goalkeeper Toldo's only moment of concern came when he took a kick in the head off Jermain Defoe. Worrying. It has to improve - doesn't it?"
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Barcelona

1949: "Stevo for England manager. Can't be worse then the rest of them."
Saket, via text

First decision - Lampard and Gerrard never play in same team again. Second decision - Ashley Young in, Downing out. Good start?

1947: "England's major problem is that if it doesn't go well after 20, 25 minutes they revert to the long ball. It's what always happens with this England team. The last 20 minutes, Andorra were very comfortable."
BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Mark Lawrenson

1945: Half-time Andorra 0-0 England

1942: "What England need is a director of football... controversial."
Peter, via text

Hahaha. With Kevin Keegan as manager??!!

1939: Stewart Downing is in the team to cross the football. So how come he can't cross a ball? Left foot, right foot - they are all too high, or too low, or just too rubbish. Actually, they're all rubbish. He's been hopeless.

1938: "AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"
Stolen Hub Cap on 606
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Yep.

1936: Here come the boos from the England fans. Can you hear them, Steve McC- sorry, Fabio?

1933: If Gareth Barry had a right foot, England would be ahead. Joleon Lescott heads a corner across the six-yard box and the Aston Villa midfielder waits to it to come across to his left foot instead of smashing it in with his right. The chance, eventually, goes begging.

1931: "Cole and Downing on the left are completely clueless."
Mark, via text

1930: "England's fans are showing signs of boredom already - I could have sworn I just heard them chanting their support for the BBC.

"A group of Andorran supporters, plus friends and relatives of their players, are situated near the press box and they are in very jovial mood as their team once again frustrate the life out of England. Guile needed from somewhere or a moment of inspiration from someone - anyone."
BBC Sport's always impartial Phil McNulty in Barcelona

1928: Jermain Defoe hammers a left-foot shot into the Barcelona night sky. I wish I was in Barcelona. I think if I was, I probably wouldn't be at this game. Glen Johnson crosses over the bar. Woe, woe, woe.

1928: "It's a bit attack vs defence at the moment. Surely we have the quality to break the deadlock... do we? Our final balls have been pretty poor."
nowthennathan on 606
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1925: It's just not quite right at the minute for England, a view shared by Fabio Capello as he barks out instructions from the touchline. They are getting to the Andorra box time and again, but the final pass is letting them down.

1922: Meanwhile, Britain's Andy Murray has, remarkably, gone two sets up over the world number one and previously unbeatable Rafael Nadal. Sounds quite exciting - why not have a peek at Piers Newbery's live updates? I'm not saying you have to, it's just there, you know.
Live - Murray v Nadal

1920: Frank Lampard smashes a shot wide from 22 yards with keeper Alvarez not quite getting there.

1918: "Why do I get the feeling we will have to wait untill the last minute for a goal?"
Sam, Coventry, via text

Because you're an eternal pessimist?

1915: Got to put those away, son. Theo Walcott brilliantly cushions a Frank Lampard pass into the path of Wayne Rooney so that he doesn't even need to break stride, but the striker blazes over from 15 yards.

1915: "The pattern is set. Andorra are camped in their own half and England have almost total possession. England need the early goal Fabio Capello talked about - but even then that will not draw Andorra out.

"Theo Walcott's pace is too much for Andorra and that has provided the early encouragement.

"Deckchair for David James? How's that for tempting fate?"
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Barcelona

1913: There could be goals, but it could also get frustrating this for England. They need to be mature and calm and the three goals I've predicted will all come in due course.

1911: "Oi Stevo are you Mystic Meg's love child? (See 1352) Two spot on, one correct and one barely wrong!"
engftypakcrktwoeisme on 606
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Well, I don't like to brag, but...

1907: Those England fans who have made the trip to Barcelona are making one hell of a racket in support of their team. A far cry from the angry scenes the last time England played Andorra. England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce sits alongside Fabio Capello on the England bench.

1905: There's goals in this one. Glenn Johnson's fierce drive is deflected wide after Ashley Cole is given the freedom of the park down the left. Andorra are sitting right back already, they've no intention of taking this game to England.

1901: Good work down the right from Theo Walcott, who races into the box but lifts the ball over the bar instead of squaring it. Bit selfish, that.

1901: "I have just had a £20 bet with the girlfriend that Andorra will score first."
Scoopex, Birmingham, via text

1900: They've kicked off in Barcelona. Nice and early. Cheers for that.

1852: Back in five. Nice one.

1850: Full-time Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland

1849: GOAL Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland
They may still be winning, but Gio Trapattoni is furious with that goal and rightly so. A ball is played to the right-hand corner of the Ireland six-yard box and it is laid off to Levan Kenia, who cuts inside and slams home left-footed.

1849: "We will probably limp home in second. Despite how poor England are, we are better than the other teams. The Ukraine-Belarus game is dire."
kennyr on 606
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Oh my days you people are pessimistic. Can we get some postitive vibes going, I'm getting a bad atmosphere from you lot tonight.

1846: "Can someone please explain why Agbonlahor, Owen and Ashley Young are not in the England squad?"
zainlin (martin laursen= tickas!) on 606
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I'm fairly sure Fabio Capello could, but I'm equally certain he's probably a bit too busy right now.

1844: A third and last change for the Irish, with the impressive Aiden McGeady given a breather and Andy Keogh coming on in his place.

1842: "Instead of guessing the England score, we should all guess how many deflections Lampard's goal will take."
Chris, Edinburgh, via text

1840: Eight minutes to go in the Republic of Ireland match, 20 minutes until England start. Just long enough to get a sandwich, I reckon.

1839: "Coldplay are also in town tonight - playing right across the road from here at the Palau Sant Jordi. Might be more people there than here unless there is a late rush. Give me Andorra v England every time ahead of Chris Martin's mob. Now if it was Bruce Springsteen..."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Barcelona

1837: After getting the Northern Ireland score exactly right (see 1352), I'm just basking for a little while. Meanwhile, Espanyol's Steve Finnan is replaced by Paul McShane in Mainz.

1834: Goalscorer Kevin Doyle is replaced by Liam Miller.

1833: "Going for a boring 2-0 win with Lampard and Defoe scoring... sounds realistic?"
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1827: GOAL Georgia 0-2 Republic of Ireland
Howler for Loria, he won't want to see that again. Glenn Whelan hits a highly optimistic shot from fully 40 yards that flies straight at the Gerogian keeper, but it bounces awkwardly just in front of him and cannons into the net via Loria. Oh dear.

1826: Aiden McGeady tumbles under a challenge on the edge of the box and there are appeals for a penalty, waved away. It was a definite free-kick though, poor decision.

1825: "Andorra have to fancy their chances against a second string England, given the way they performed against the first XI a couple of years ago..."
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1822: Full-time Slovakia 2-1 Northern Ireland

1818: My goodness me HeavensChimney on 606, you were so nearly right. Warren Feeney hits a right-foot shot that forces a fine tip-over save from Senecky, while the keeper makes a flying, acrobatic, unneccessary save from George McCartney's header from a corner. So, so close.

1818: "The equaliser is there for the taking for NI if we can get our act together."
HeavensChimney on 606
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1817: "Supporters are starting to drift into Barcelona's Olympic Stadium - a soulless venue in an area in which the deeds of 1992 appear to be long forgotten. London take note.

"Rumours that England coach Fabio Capello would make wholesale changes and exclude a host of experienced players have proved unfounded, but there is no place for David Beckham. This is a massive chance for Theo Walcott to terrorise Andorra with his pace.

"Television screens in the press box are showing Andy Murray's US Open semi-final against Rafael Nadal - let's hope England can ensure our attention doesn't stray from Barcelona to New York."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Barcelona

1814: Robbie Keane goes around the goalkeeper but can only his the post from a tight angle. Aiden McGeady slams the rebound wide.

1811: It's pandemonium in the Slovakia box and Northern Ireland keep putting the ball back in the mixer. They don't look comfortable, the hosts, and a couple of desperate blocks prevent NI from getting in a shot on target. They're flagging. Six minutes left.

1809: GOAL Slovakia 2-1 Northern Ireland
A goal back - and it's game on here. Chris Brunt sends over a cross from the left and there's a distinct lack of communication between goalie and defenders, resulting in Jan Durica putting the ball into his own net.

1808: Chris Brunt's hammer of a left foot sends a shot miles wide and over in Slovakia, while John O'Shea heads over from eight yards from an Aiden McGeady corner for the Republic of Ireland.

1806: Dean Shiels comes on for Chris Baird in Bratislava. Only 12 minutes to go for Northern Ireland.

1806: England team to play Andorra: James, Johnson, Lescott, Terry, A Cole, Walcott, Lampard, Barry, Downing, Rooney, Defoe.

1805: Theo Walcott starts for England tonight. So does Stewart Downing. More to follow...

1803: The second half is under way in Mainz, as the Republic of Ireland lead Georgia 1-0.

1801: "Terrible decision by the referee - it should be 1-1, not 2-0."
Keith, NI, via text

I take your point, but you still have to stick the penalty away. Just ask Jason Koumas.

1758: GOAL Slovakia 2-0 Northern Ireland
Really, really harsh on Nigel Worthington's men only a minute after they should have had a penalty. A free-kick is floated into the box, Robert Vittek heads it back across goal and Marek Hamsik is on hand to slot home on the volley left-footed.

1757: Northern Ireland have a great shout for a penalty turned down after Chris Baird's shot strikes a Slovakian defender on the arm. Jonny Evans, meanwhile, is booked for dissent.

1754: Northern Ireland have had a little bit more of the ball recently, but Slovakia's passing is more crisp and incisive in the final third and they fashion another opening for Vittek, who hammers over left-footed from 20 yards. Chris Brunt comes on for Martin Paterson.

1751: "I'm happy with our display so far at half-time. Looking at the team and the way Trappa has organised the team in such a short space of time, especially compared to the shambles that was Stan's era in the Euro qualifiers."
5ForKeeps on 606
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1750: "I'm not really sure why I'm texting. It's not like you ever print what I say."
Ro, waiting for England, via text

Yeah, fair point.

1747: Svento comes on for Jakubko for the Slovakians.

1747: Half-time Georgia 0-1 Republic of Ireland

1744: "Hunt and Doyle... Prem class and playing in the Champ, don't you just love it?!"
Craig, Reading fan, via text

1740: Chances coming thick and fast in both games. Keith Gillespie flights over a corner in Bratislava and George McCartney can only head over from 12 yards out.

1738: What a chance for that man Iashvili again. A corner is swung over from the Georgian right and it falls to Iashvili, unmarked and six yards out, but he can only head miles over the bar. Shocker.

1738: "I've been to Mainz five times on my school's German exchange. One of the most beautiful cities in the world."
Rob, via text

And who am I to argue with that?

1736: Iashvili hits a shot wide as Georgia press for an equaliser against Rep of Ireland in Mainz.

1735: GOAL Slovakia 1-0 Northern Ireland
A free-kick is whipped over the the left, inswinging and dangerous and as the Northern Ireland defenders stand in a line along the six-yard box, Liverpool's Martin Skrtel rises high and flicks a header into the corner of the net.

1733: "Ireland on top right now. I wonder if we'll really push for a second goal, or if come the second half, we'll just stick with what we've got."
toffees1888 on 606
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Dangerous game, that.

1730: "(See 1704) Let's hope England play a 'weakened' line-up, it'll do better than the usual XI."
Andy, London, via text

1728: Steven Reid hammers in the free-kick after it is touched into his path and Loria makes a good save, with Kevin Doyle not able to get enough power on his follow-up header to trouble the Georgian stopper.

1727: Good run at pace from Reading's Stephen Hunt directly at the Georgia box, until he is fouled by Khizanishvili 25 yards out and the defender picks up a booking for his troubles.

1725: The texts seem to have dried up on 81111. I know it's not transfer deadline day, but it is the World Cup. It's big, right? Then come on.

1723: "Scotland most likely would have defeated Georgia last year if it had been played at a neutral venue and thus would have probably qualified for Euro 2008."
Boris Becker's Bedtime Story on 606
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Yeah coulda, woulda, shoulda. Shocking argument, that one. It does remind me to remind you, however, that this game is being played in Mainz, Germany, because of the problems in Georgia. So thanks.

1718: Half-time Slovakia 0-0 Northern Ireland

1717: Glenn Whelan hammers in a shot from the edge of the box that forces a fine save from Loria in the Georgia goal.

1716: David Healy collects Steven Davis's pass and runs clean through, but he shoots too early and his 20-yard effort goes a couple of feet wide of Senecky's right-hand post.

1714: GOAL Georgia 0-1 Republic of Ireland
Robbie Keane plays a cute pass into the path of Aiden McGeady down the right and the Celtic man curls over a fine cross that Kevin Doyle heads into the net from six yards. Great start for the Irish.

1712: Slovakia are getting close, here. A corner is swung in from the right and Petras rises high, his powerful header flying just past the post.

1709: Lucky break for Northern Ireland there. A cross comes in from the left and Jakubko heads past Maik Taylor, but the goal is ruled out for offside. It's marginal, but probably the correct decision.

1708: "Has Slovakia got something else on today? There's nobody at the football."
stephen_macca on 606
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Maybe the credit crunch has hit Bratislava, too.

1704: Rumours from Barcelona suggest that Fabio Capello may spring a few surprises and play a weakened England side against Andorra. That means the likes of David Beckham and Joe Cole could be saved for the trip to Croatia on Wednesday which could mean Theo Walcott making his first England start. We're working to firm this up...

1703: Republic of Ireland team: Given, Finnan, Kilbane, O'Shea, Dunne, Whelan, McGeady, Steven Reid, Doyle, Keane, Hunt.

1701: Under way in the Georgia v Republic of Ireland game.

1657: "The last international tournament didn't have England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland. I remember us having an absolutely entertaining competition. More of the same please!"
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1655: "Mmm. Your predictions (see 1352) are almost as good as Lawro's when he predicts the Premier League."
Phil, via text

Why thank you. I've become quite famous for them.

1652: Full-time Wales 1-0 Azerbaijan

1651: Ched Evans fires wide from 25 yards, but Wales have just about done enough and the whistle will be going soon.

1646: Jason Koumas, probably as relieved as his gaffer, is replaced by Carl Robinson. Two minutes plus stoppages left in Cardiff.

1645: "The referee has given out more cards than I do at Christmas."
Tom Barrow from Cardiff, via text

Eight yellows and a red? Stingy.

1643: Another good move from Northern Ireland sees Sammy Clingan get on the end of a David Healy knock-down, but the midfielder's fierce drive is well held by Slovakia keeper Senecky. Bright start this from Nigel Worthington's side.

1641: GOAL Wales 1-0 Azerbaijan
Can you imagine how relieved John Toshack will be? It's an ugly goal, a corner isn't cleared and Sam Vokes reacts well to turn the ball past Arhayev. Azerbaijan are ranked 138th in the world, incidentally.

1640: Magnificent goalkeeping, Arhayev tips over acrobatically as Sam Vokes heads Gareth Bale's cross towards the top corner. Closest Wales have come, not counting the penalty.

1639: Sammy Clingan plays in David Healy in Slovakia and the Sunderland striker's shot is deflected wide.

1637: Subashic receives a delightful 50-yard pass and runs at the Welsh defence, but from an angle wide on the left he flashes a shot wide. Up the other end and Sam Vokes' header is saved, but it would have been ruled out for offside, which he definitely wasn't.

1634: They are under way in Bratislava, with Keith Gillespie fit to start for Northern Ireland against Slovakia.

1633: NORTHERN IRELAND LINE-UP: Taylor, Hughes, Evans, Craigan, McCartney, Baird, Clingan, Gillespie, Davis, Paterson, Healy.

1631: Teenage striker Sam Vokes comes on for David Edwards as the clock ticks down in Cardiff.

1630: "Even before this Welsh penalty miss we would have had a better chance if Toshack had made better changes. I feel sorry for Earnshaw who is the subject of poor tactics by the coach, he needed Evans up there with him."
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1629: The players are out in Slovakia for their game with Northern Ireland and the anthems are being played.

1626: SENDING OFF
Brazilian-born Ramim is given a second yellow card for a silly shirt tug on Jason Koumas and Azerbaijan now have to play 22 minutes plus stoppages with 10 men. If Wales don't win now...

1625: MISSED PENALTY
Does no-one want to play in the World Cup? Jason Koumas' penalty is brilliantly saved by the debutant Arhayev, who then gets up quickly to save Koumas' weak rebound shot.

1623: PENALTY TO WALES

1622: "The referee is a joke. Wales are a joke. We have had zero clear-cut chances playing one up front. Why oh why?"
Magic Raccoon in Cardiff, via text

1621: Pathetic stuff from Jason Koumas, as he gets booked for kicking the ball away after committing a foul. Some people just never learn, do they?

1619: With over an hour gone in Cardiff, Ramim slams a shot miles over the Welsh crossbar. Manchester City's Ched Evans replaces the disappointing but probably still slightly injured Rob Earnshaw.

1617: Gareth Bale is booked for taking a free-kick before the referee blew his whistle. A stupid rule in football.

1614: "Absolutely pathetic from Scotland. No more excuses, the team played like amateurs in the first half and that's just not acceptable at this level."
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1612: Rob Earnshaw chests down a pass in the Azerbaijan box, but the ball runs a little too far ahead of him and the angle is against a shot on goal.

1612: "We're disappointed to lose but the whole of the second half we dominated the game. There is a lot of pride in this heat that we battled away until the end. We conceded from a free-kick after five minutes but in the second half I thought we were outstanding. The players thought it was a stonewall penalty."
Scotland manager George Burley

1611: "If I had a hair clip like Gareth Bale, Colin Harvey, my old boss at Everton, would have given me a rocket!"
BBC Radio Wales pundit Kevin Ratcliffe

1609: Bit of a surprise in the Northern Ireland team, with Martin Paterson getting the nod to start up front with David Healy instead of Warren Feeney. Chris Baird will operate in a defensive midfield role, with Chris Brunt having to settle for a place on the bench.

1607: NORTHERN IRELAND LINE-UP: Taylor, Hughes, Evans, Craigan, McCartney, Baird, Clingan, Gillespie, Davis, Paterson, Healy.

1605: "If we donít win this game it won't be a catastrophe but it won't be far off."
Former Wales defender and BBC Radio Wales pundit Kit Symons

1603: Back under way at the Millennium Stadium. Come on Wales, give us something to shout about.

1600: Apparently, hundreds of football fans had trouble getting into the World Cup qualifier in Macedonia. Our news boys have done a cheeky little story on it, if you care to read further.
Scots fans turned away from game

1558: Oh dear. You know, I'm not sure South Africa's that nice a place to go anyway.

1556: "Not a great result for us Scots. I guess we will just have to do things the hard way and do the double over Holland. Then Holland can get the title of 'The poor man's Macedonia'."
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1556: Full-time Macedonia 1-0 Scotland

1554: "Re Wales tickets (See 1503) - I left pub at 1457 and got in for kick-off - not sure why it needed to be delayed."
Romford Jon, via text

1552: A goalless first half at the Millennium Stadium leaves Wales with a lot of work to do against Azerbaijan. John Toshack's side have had most of the possession but are struggling to create chances for lone striker Rob Earnshaw and Gareth Bale and Jason Koumas have had their best efforts so far - the visitors have had a couple of openings too so Wales cannot take anything for granted.

1551: Milosevski beats away a 20-yard shot from Shaun Maloney as Scotland press desperately for a late leveller. It swung too - good stop.

1549: Half-time Wales 0-0 Azerbaijan

1549: "What on earth has happened to the pride and passion in the Scotland squad? What has George Burley done to destroy this?"
gers-ham89 on 606
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1547: The Tartan Army have gone quiet. Are they already seeing a potential nail in the coffin of their hopes of going to the World Cup in South Africa?

1546: "The sparse crowd are trying to get their team going."
BBC Radio Wales commentator Rob Phillips

1544: Lazio's Goran Pandev is taken off by Macedonia, with Tasevski coming on.

1543: "Why didnít Scotland play like this in the first half?"
BBC Radio Scotland commentator David Begg reflects on Scotland's improved second-half performance

1542: Kenny Miller is taken off and replaced by Kris Boyd, one last throw of the dice from Scotland.

1541: Ten minutes to go in the Scotland game, five minutes to half-time in Wales' match.

1540: Dave Edwards fires over from the edge of the area for Wales. Still no clear-cut chances, though, somewhat worryingly.

1539: Kris Commons and his dancing feet see off a defender down the right and get a dangerous cross into the box, but Macedonia have defended well today and they clear the danger. He's looked lively, KC.

1537: "Macedonia are starting to sit right back now. Scotland are on top and for the first time are looking dangerous. They should have had a penalty a couple of minutes ago as well."
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15 minutes to go and you need a goal or you're out of the World Cup. Only kidding. Shaun Maloney comes on for Barry Robson.

1534: "If it wasn't for Craig Gordon I would have given up on life a long time ago."
Paul, NY (the original one), via text

1532: James McFadden is booked for complaining - he wants a penalty after being tripped by the keeper and to make matters worse for Scotland, Kenny Miller had a similar shout a few seconds before as he tumbled under a defender's challenge. Neither definites, but seen them given.

1532: Jason Koumas curls a right-foot shot towards the top corner from 30 yards and Arhayev brilliantly tips it over the bar.

1530: Goalscorer Naumoski is taken off for Macedonia, with Trajanov - who scored against England once - replacing him.

1529: Gareth Bale whips in a free-kick from the right which debutant goalkeeper Arhayev fails to deal with, but just as Chris Gunther is about to get to the ball it is cleared by a diving defender.

1527: Kris Commons comes on for Paul Hartley in Skopje. Looks like he's lost some weight, the Mansfield-born wide man.

1526: Huseynov gets around the outside of Gareth Bale and with a sight of goal, rifles over the crossbar. Azerbaijan have had the three best efforts on goal so far.

1523: "Scotland are second to every ball, we are flat-footed at set-pieces. If we are lucky we'll escape here with a point."
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1521: Gareth Bale is doing most of Wales' attacking at the minute from his left-back position, but John Toshack's side are still waiting for a clear-cut chance against Azerbaijan.

1519: "Re: my message at 1503 - we've given up trying to get into the Wales game and gone to the pub - that's £60 the FA have lost!"
Dai, Cardiff, via text

Embarrassing.

1518: Goran Maznov, from FC Tom' Tomsk, hits a drive that is deflected over by a Scottish defender. Seconds later, Ipswich midfielder Shumulikoski (dubbed 'the Macedonian Steven Gerrard') hits a screamer from 22 yards and as it flies through several bodies, Craig Gordon - seeing it late - makes a quite stunning one-handed save.

1516: Super cross from Gary Naysmith from the left wing and it's just begging to be headed in by Darren Fletcher, but he completely misses the ball and as it rebounds off a Macedonia defender, Kenny Miller clips it over the bar. Wasted chance.

1514: "I don't understand why Wales matches aren't played at Ninian Park. At least then it would be a sell-out!"
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1511: Subashic crashes in a left-foot drive against Wales that takes a deflection and forces a fine, flying save from Wayne Hennessey. Meanwhile, Scott Brown's right-foot forces Milosevski to save in Skopje.

1510: Scotland have already improved and Barry Robson has swung over two decent corners now which have needed to be well defended.

1509: "The organisation for the Wales game is disgraceful. I'm stood outside the stadium with about 2000 other people, in the rain, to get a ticket. And they wonder why no-one goes to watch Wales."
Jones, queuing in the rain, Cardiff, via text

1507: Scotland are back under way. They really need to not lose here, like you need me to tell you that. Duh.

1505: Decent start by Wales in Cardiff and Joe Ledley slices a left-foot volley wide as they continue to look for an opener.

1503: "The Welsh FA is a joke, been queuing for a ticket outside the Millennium Stadium for an hour and this queue isn't moving - have they delayed kick-off?"
Anonymous, via text

Er, no. Sorry. Hope you get in soon mate.

1501: Wales get their World Cup qualification campaign under way with the roof closed in rainy Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

1500: "The Macedonians are a disgrace, they are falling to the ground like they have been shot at the slightest contact - sometimes without any contact at all, and then feigning injuries continuously to try and buy sympathy from the ref."
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1458: "Is Kris Commons, Derby legend playing?"
Rob, via text

Nice try, son. No, he's not. Also - looking at his impact and The Championship table, doesn't take much to become a legend at Pride Park these days does it mate?!

1457: Reminder of the Wales team to face Azerbaijan in Cardiff: Hennessey, Gunter, Bale, Fletcher, Morgan, Williams, Davies, Edwards, Koumas, Earnshaw, Ledley. The teams are out, incidentally.

1453: "The home fans are delighted, the Tartan Army are despondent."
BBC Radio Scotland commentator David Begg describes the half-time mood in Skopje

1450: Half-time Macedonia 1-0 Scotland

1448: Two minutes of injury time, which we're now in to.

1446: The always lively James McFadden has a cheeky little nibble at Lazarevski as the defender lets the ball run out for a goalkick and some of the Macedonia players don't look best pleased with the Scot. Czech ref Pavel Kralovec has a little word in his ear.

1444: Gary Caldwell in the thick of the action again as the Macedonians think they should have a penalty - it's rolled off his chest to be fair, good decision referee.

1442: Maznov is played through over the top and, 12 yards out, he prepares to pull the trigger and make it 2-0, but almost out of nowhere Gary Caldwell races across and gets in a sensational block. Top, top drawer defending.

1438: Barry Robson chances his Scottish arm from 25 yards, but it's a routine save for Milosevski in the Macedonia goal.

1438: "My major concern for Scotland is for the second half. It hasn't been all that warm for the Scots lately and to go to Macedonia and run around for 90 minutes in near 100 degree temperatures after only 24 hours acclimatising is going to be very hard."
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1434: Ooh my word. Maznov is not happy as he reaches to try and get the ball in the Scotland box and a stretching Craig Gordon appears to make contact - though the keeper probably gets some of the ball too.

1434: "The last few minutes have been a little bit better from Scotland. We've had a bit of the ball and we're probing - trying to do the right things."
BBC Radio Scotland pundit Billy Dodds

1433: James McFadden has a real chance to get Scotland level, cutting in from the right-hand side of the box but just delaying a fraction too long and seeing his left-foot drive bravely blocked.

1432: "Paul Hartley's shorts are too high, that is all."
Bryan from Gourock, via text

Oh, OK.

1429: "The goal has killed Scotland's game plan."
BBC Radio Scotland pundit Billy Dodds

1427: Pandev cranks the crowd up a notch again and gives Gary Caldwell a problem as he catches a left-foot volley on the sweet spot and only it hitting the defender prevents Craig Gordon from being called into action. Good hit, son.

1423: Cracking atmosphere in Skopje and the hosts have settled much the better of the two teams. In stifling conditions, Macedonia are being given time on the ball in midfield and Scotland need to get themselves into the game here.

1420: "A draw would be a good result for Scotland. I wouldn't call Macedonia minnows either. They've turned over more than a few top sides at home recently."
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1417: "Scotland look terribly nervous."
BBC Radio Scotland commentator David Begg

1416: TEAM LINE-UP WALES v AZERBAIJAN
Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Bale, Fletcher, Morgan, Williams, Davies, Edwards, Koumas, Earnshaw, Ledley.

1414: "It's all over, no World Cup for us."
Paul, North Yorkshire (Scotland fan), via text

1410: It's a bit harsh on Scotland that, in truth. Maznov won the free-kick after a one-two with Pandev, but it didn't look like a foul - he went down way too easily. The Scots are in a game here already.

1408: GOAL Macedonia 1-0 Scotland
Sedloski hammers in a free-kick from 25 yards that Craig Gordon does really well to tip on to the left-hand post, but his defence reacts far too slowly and Ilco Naumoski reacts to slot past the stranded keeper.

1405: "Can't get excited. Home Nations vs a set of teams with no history. The break up of the USSR certainly did us no favours when it comes to tantalising group fixtures in Europe!"
Paul, Berkshire, via text

1403: Three minutes late, we are under way in Macedonia. World Cup here we come.

1402: "I've seen Arshavin jetting into Heathrow. Oh wait. I'm five days late."
Ollie, via text

Hahaha. Best day ever.

1400: According to Sportsound presenter Richard Gordon, some Scottish and Macedonian fans with tickets can't get into the stadium.

1358: The players walk out in Skopje in bright sunshine (well at least someone's getting a summer) and the Scots belt out their national athem. A 12-year-old girl sings the hosts' tune.

1356: "Not got a lot of confidence in Scotland's defence today, Alexander and Naysmith were past it for Euro 2008 qualifiers, while our central pairing were skinned alive last week against Rangers."
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1352: Anyone want some Stevo Predos? No? Well tough...
Maecedonia 1-1 Scotland
Wales 3-0 Azerbaijan
Slovakia 2-1 Northern Ireland
Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland
Andorra 0-3 England

1349: Apparently, BBC Sport blogger Chick Young has said on radio that Scotland have had to go out and buy more water because the Macedonians said they had used up their allocation. They are also putting sprays around the pitch for the players. Blimey.

1347: It only needs me to remind you how to get involved today, though I'm sure you already know. Get those texts flooding in on the hotline that is 81111 and join the debate on 606. These World Cup qualifiers won't get exciting by themselves, you know (probably).
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1344: Some team news from the Scotland camp: Kenny Miller and James McFadden start up front, Barry Robson is given a midfield berth and Stephen McManus, as expected, recovers from a knock to take his place at centre-back. All pretty standard stuff.

1340: The road to South Africa starts here. How many of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and England will reach the 2010 World Cup? I can't answer that question today. But we can start to...




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