Ronaldo on target as Portugal avoid upset in Luxembourg

Cristiano Ronaldo scores Portugal's equalizer in Luxembourg watched by fellow striker Helder Postiga.

Story highlights

  • Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal have to come from behind to beat Luxembourg 2-1
  • Italy held to 2-2 draw in Bulgaria with Pablo Osvaldo scoring twice for visitors
  • England win 5-0 in Moldova in first qualifying match for manager Roy Hodgson
  • Germany, France and the Netherlands also secure opening wins

Shocks were at a premium as 2014 World Cup qualifying kicked off in Europe Friday but Portugal were given a fright before beating minnows Luxembourg 2-1 in their opener in Group F.

It needed a Cristiano Ronaldo equalizer in the first half to cancel out Daniel Da Mota's 14th minute opener for the hosts.

Helder Postiga hit the winner just before the hour mark as they kept pace with Russia, who earlier beat Northern Ireland 2-0 in Moscow.

Of the big guns, England were the most comprehensive winners, beating Moldova 5-0 in Chisinau with Frank Lampard scoring a first half double and Jermain Defoe adding the other.

James Milner and Leighton Baines were on target after the break as Roy Hodgson's team took an early advantage in Group H with Montenegro and Poland sharing four goals in the other match in the qualifying section.

Germany were made to work hard by the Faroe Islands whose goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen made a series of fine saves.

The home side only led 1-0 at halftime in Hannover, but a second half double from Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil gave them a more comfortable 3-0 advantage by the final whistle.

Republic of Ireland were the other winners on the night in Group C as two late goals from Robbie Keane, with a penalty, and Kevin Doyle gave them a fortunate 2-1 win in Kazakhstan.

Euro 2012 runners-up Italy were grateful for a 2-2 draw in Bulgaria in Group, falling behind to a long range strike from Stanislav Manolev.

Italy hit back in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia with a pair of goals from their Argentine-born striker Pablo Osvaldo.

But Gerogi Milanov finished off a fine move to give the home side a deserved point.

France made a winning start in the tough looking Group I which also features reigning World and European champions Spain, who sat out the opening round of fixtures.

Didier Deschamps' new charges emerged 1-0 winners in Finland with Abou Diaby first half strike proving the difference.

New Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a fine late save to keep out the hosts.

The Netherlands had Manchester United's Robin van Persie on target as they beat Turkey 2-0 in a heavyweight clash to start Group D.

Group A favorites Belgium, packed with big money English Premier League signings, made a solid start to their campaign with a 2-0 win over Wales, who had James Collins sent off in the first half.

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany headed them in front before the break with Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen sealing the three points in Cardiff.

Bosnia-Herzegovina secured the biggest win of the night in Liechtenstein as Vedad Ibisevic and Edin Dzeko scored hat-tricks in an 8-1 romp.

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