The top teams in Europe struggle in World Cup qualifiers
Spain waited until the 86th minute to score and open their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Georgia last Tuesday, capping an unconvincing night for Europe's top teams.
England on the other hand needed a penalty kick by Frank Lampard in the 87th minute to salvage a 1-1 draw with Ukraine at Wembley Stadium while Germany, Portugal and Italy all failed to impress despite securing wins in the second round of qualifiers.
Germany held on to beat Austria 2-1, with Mesut Ozil's 52nd-minute penalty proving the difference, while Portugal needed three goals in the final 27 minutes to beat Azerbaijan 3-0 and Italy barely edged past lowly ranked Malta 2-0.
Spain, the reigning World and European champions, looked as though their run of 22 straight wins in qualifying – dating back to 2007 – would come to an end against a heavily defensive Georgia until Roberto Soldado scored in the 86th minute.
Frank Lampard's 26th international goal came from the penalty spot after Yevhen Khacheridi handled the ball, making it three goals in five days for the Chelsea star following his brace in England's 5-0 thrashing of Moldova on Friday.
"These games are not easy and in the end getting a point is a good result considering we were 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go," Lampard said.
The Netherlands took care of Hungary 4-1 through goals by Jeremain Lens (two), Bruno Martens and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
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