Italy, Netherlands qualify for 2014 World Cup

AP - Sports
Italy, Netherlands qualify for 2014 World Cup
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Italy and the Netherlands became the first European teams to qualify for next year's World Cup, and the United States, Costa Rica and Argentina also grabbed spots in the field on Tuesday night.

Giorgio Chiellini scored in the 51st minute and Mario Balotelli converted a penalty kick in the 54th, giving Italy a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the Czech Republic at Turin. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made his 136th international appearance, matching Fabio Cannavaro's Italian record.

The Azzurri (6-0-2), a four-time world champion, clinched first in Group B and will be appearing in soccer's top tournament for the 14th straight time.

''Now we can celebrate everything. I'm even happier with my personal record after we've qualified,'' Buffon said.

Libor Kozak had scored in the 19th minute for the Czechs (2-3-3). With little chance to qualify, Czech coach Michal Bilek resigned after the game.

Robin Van Persie's goals in the 49th and 53rd minutes lifted the Netherlands to a 2-0 win at Andorra. The Oranje (7-0-1), a three-time World Cup runner up, won Group D.

The newcomers joined host Brazil and Asian nations Australia, Iran, Japan and South Korea in the 32-team field for the World Cup, which kicks off June 12.

Second-half goals by Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan lifted the United States to a 2-0 victory over Mexico in Columbus, Ohio. The U.S. then secured its seventh straight World Cup appearance when Honduras played to a 2-2 tie against Panama.

''We wanted to qualify for the World Cup. We've done that. Now we've got to make sure we do well in Brazil,'' said Clint Dempsey, who assisted on Donovan's goal.

The U.S. (5-2-1) moved into first place in the North and Central American and Caribbean finals with 16 points, one ahead of Costa Rica (4-1-3), which was held to a 1-1 tie at last-place Jamaica, but still wrapped up a spot for Brazil.

Two-time champion Argentina got in with a 5-2 victory over Paraguay.

In Europe, the nine group winners qualify, and eight second-place teams advance to playoffs in November that will determine four additional berths.

Three-time champion Germany (7-0-1) won 3-0 at the Faeroe Islands on goals by Per Merteswacker and Thomas Mueller around Mesut Ozil's penalty kick, getting in position to clinch Group C next month. Sweden (5-1-2) is second after winning 1-0 at Kazakhstan on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's first-minute goal.

England tied 0-0 at Ukraine as Frank Lampard made his 100th international appearance, leaving the Three Lions (4-0-4) atop Group H with two games left, one point ahead of Montenegro and Ukraine (both 4-1-3).

Russia (6-2) moved into the Group F lead ahead of Portugal (5-1-2), defeating visiting Israel 3-1 on goals by Vasiliy Berezutsky, Aleksandr Kokorin and Denis Glushakov.

France twice came from behind to win 4-2 at Belarus 4-2 as Franck Ribery scored twice, included a penalty kick, and Samir Nasri and Paul Pogba added goals. Defending champion Spain (4-0-2) leads France (4-1-2) on goal difference in Group I.

Switzerland (5-3) won 2-0 at Norway on a pair of Fabian Schaer goals in Group E and can finish first by winning one of its last two games, at Albania and home against Slovenia.

Bosnia-Herzegovina leads Greece (both 6-1-1) in Group C after beating Latvia 1-0 as the Greeks defeated Slovakia.

In the second leg of the Asian playoff, Jordan beat Uzbekistan 9-8 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw left the aggregate 2-2.

Jordan will play South America's fifth-place team in a two-leg playoff in November for berth.

In an exhibition, Spain came from behind twice for a 2-2 draw against Chile at Geneva. Roberto Soldado and Jesus Navas scored for Spain, and Eduardo Vargas had a pair of goals for Chile.

Thiago Silva and Neymar scored first-half goals to propel Brazil to a 3-1 victory over Portugal in a friendly before 62,310 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

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