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Spain, England maintain perfect start

October 16, 2008 09:33 IST

Striker David Villa maintained European champions Spain's perfect start to 2010 World Cup qualifying with a late winner to sink Belgium 2-1 on Wednesday.

England, who overcame Belarus 3-1, and the Netherlands, 1-0 winners over Norway, also kept their 100 percent records. Greece, the only other European nation to begin the evening with maximum points, lost 2-1 at home to Switzerland.

Midfielder Alberto Aquilani scored twice for world champions and Group Eight leaders Italy who edged out plucky Montenegro 2-1 in Lecce.

Germany also found it tough going at home against Wales, the Group Four favorites taking the points and a 1-0 win thanks to a long-range strike from Piotr Trochowski with a little under 20 minutes to go.

Spain stretched their unbeaten run to 27 matches and made it four wins from four in Group Five but they had to come from behind to defeat Belgium with Villa heading in an 88th-minute winner in Brussels.

Vicente del Bosque's team had won their first three games without conceding a goal but their net was breached by Wesley Sonck after just seven minutes. Andres Iniesta hauled the Spaniards level before the break.

Striker Wayne Rooney's two second-half goals carried England to a 3-1 win over Belarus in Minsk, continuing their fine form under coach Fabio Capello.

Rooney took his tally to five in three games after a double against Kazakhstan on Saturday and one in the 4-1 win over Croatia last month.

England had never previously won their four opening matches in a World Cup qualifying campaign dating back to 1949-50. They top Group Six with 12 points, five ahead of Croatia and Ukraine.

The Netherlands also maintained their 100 percent record in Group Nine with a 1-0 success over Norway in Oslo. Midfielder Mark van Bommel volleyed in a 62nd-minute winner for the Dutch who have nine points from three games.

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