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Great night for Blues on Road to Brazil

First up, James Milner and Joe Hart both edged closer to a place at World Cup 2014 in Brazil after England held out for a nervy goalless draw in Kiev.

Ukraine had emerged as England’s main competition to qualify automatically from Group H, trailing the visitors by a point having played the same amount of games going into this pivotal match.

Roy Hodgson opted to bring Milner into his XI in place of the suspended Danny Welbeck – the only change from the team that beat Moldova 4-0 at Wembley on Friday night.

That meant that Hart kept his place in goal and Rickie Lambert started his third international match after scoring his second England goal in that convincing win four days ago.

A tense and nervy game of very few clearcut chances ended with both teams drawing a blank, leaving James and Joe’s side in the box seat for the automatic qualifying spot from Group H.

England have their fate in their own hands, knowing they need to beat Poland and Montenegro in their two remaining qualifiers at Wembley to book their place at the World Cup.

Meanwhile in Gomel, France went into their match against Belarus looking to end a goal drought which has lasted five long games.

Gael Clichy was preferred to Patrice Evra in Didier Deschamps’ XI, while Samir Nasri had to be content with a place on the substitutes’ bench.

Deschamps’ side found themselves 1-0 down at half-time but they managed to level from the penalty spot after 47 minutes thanks to Franck Ribery.

This leveller was cancelled out by another Belarus goal just before the hour, at which point Deschamps turned to Nasri who came on in place of Payet.

Ribery hit his second equaliser of the night two minutes later, before Nasri put France ahead for the first time with a beautiful drive from just outside of the penalty area, just eight minutes after his introduction.

Pogba added another to cement France’s status as favourites for the play-off spot in Group I after a 4-2 triumph.

Edin Dzeko’s Bosnia Herzegovina were looking to exact revenge on Slovakia after they inflicted a first defeat of the campaign on the Group G leaders on Friday.

Bosnia found themselves 1-0 down going into the half-time break after Napoli’s Marek Hamsik opened the scoring in the 42nd minute but they hit back through Ermin Bicakcic and Izet Harjovic to overturn the deficit in the second half, putting them firmly back on track for qualification.

Dzeko played all 90 minutes of the 2-1 win which strengthens his prospects of appearing at next summer’s World Cup.

Serbia went into their World Cup qualifier in Cardiff against Wales playing only for pride after being eliminated at the weekend because of their their 1-1 draw with Croatia last time out.

Matija Nastasic started for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side and so too did Aleksandar Kolarov who rocketed in a trademark 30-yard piledriver to give his team a 2-0 lead going into the break.

Markovic added a third after 55 minutes to confirm the three points from a match both City men completed the full game in.

Elsewhere, Javi Garcia won his second cap for Spain 16 months after his debut in the world champions’ friendly encounter against Chile at Stade de Genève in Carouge.

Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas were named on the bench, while David Silva had to tune in from home in Manchester after sustaining an injury during Spain’s win over Finland at the weekend.

Spain struggled to get into their rhythm in the early exchanges, uncharacteristically giving the ball away cheaply against a Chilean outfit clearly briefed to get out onto the pitch and press their illustrious opponents.

After this rocky start, it was no surprise that Garcia’s men found themselves 1-0 down after five minutes when Eduardo Vargas beat the offside trap to slot past Iker Casillas.

That Chilean lead only lasted until the 38th minute when Spurs striker Roberto Soldado headed a Pedro cross past Bravo but Chile responded a minute before the break to restore their lead, courtesy of Vargas who doubled his tally.

Navas was introduced at the half-time break, Negredo replaced Soldado after 66 minutes and Garcia was withdrawn with ten minutes to go but it looked like La Roja’s hopes of salvaging a draw would be in vain.

Step forward Jesus Navas who rescued a point with a goal from a Pedro assist with one of the last kicks of the game.

To round-up, Costel Pantilimon was not involved for Romania in their World Cup qualifier against Turkey.

In the early hours, Argentina can book their place in Brazil with a win over Paraguay. We’ll let you know how Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero’s men get on here on mcfc.co.uk.

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