Spain, England cruise in Euro qualifiers
AMSTERDAM – Qualifying for the 2012 European Championship in Poland and the Ukraine kicked off on Friday, highlighted by defending champs Spain's 4-0 away cruise over Liechtenstein.
The newly crowned world champions got a goal in each half from Liverpool's Fernando Torres in the easy Group I win.
Meanwhile, France's woes continued as visiting Belarus pulled off the upset of the day, 1-0, thanks to a controversial Syarhey Kislyak goal four minutes from time.
In Group G, the lone Major League Soccer-based participant, D.C. United midfielder Branko Boskovic, worked the opening 74 minutes as Montenegro topped Wales 1-0 on a first-half Mirko Vučinić marker.
England also jumped out to a victory, humbling Bulgaria 4-0 at Wembley, with Jermain Defoe striking for a hat trick.
Germany squeaked past Group A hosts Belgium 1-0 on a second-half Miroslav Klose strike, while Turkey assumed first place with a 3-0 walk at Kazakhstan.
In Group B, a Pavel Pogrebnyak double lifted Russia top with a 2-0 win at Andorra, while Keith Fahey's 76th-minute goal got Ireland past home side Armenia 1-0 in Yura Movsisyan's 90-minute international debut.
Group C play saw Serbia sail past Faroe Islands 3-0, a Joel Lindpere-less Estonia fell 2-1 at home to Italy and guests Northern Ireland shocked Slovenia 1-0.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's hat trick helped boost the Netherlands to the top of Group E, as the Dutch registered a 5-0 road rout of San Marino.
Croatia stand atop Group F courtesy of a 3-0 victory at Latvia, while Yossi Benayoun's treble saw Israel past Malta 3-1.
In Group H, Portugal fell behind twice before halftime, and then surrendered two leads after it in a wild 4-4 draw with visiting Cyprus.
That result allowed Norway, who got a goal from Houston-born Fulham defender Brede Hangeland, to grab first place with a 2-1 decision at Iceland.