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Ronaldo posts first international hat trick

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Spain, Germany and Italy won Friday to move to the brink of qualifying for next year's World Cup, while Cristiano Ronaldo's first international hat trick kept Portugal on course for the tournament in Brazil.

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The Netherlands needed an injury time penalty kick from Robin van Persie for a 2-2 tie at 85th-ranked Estonia, and England moved atop its group with a 4-0 rout of Moldova as Danny Welbeck scored twice following Steven Gerrard's first England goal in three years and Rickie Lambert's second in two games.

Defending world champion Spain won 2-0 at Finland on goals by Jordi Alba and Alvaro Negredo, opening a three-point lead in Group I over France, which tied 0-0 at Georgia.

The nine European group winners qualify for next June's 32-nation field, and the top eight second-place teams advance to playoffs.

In late games in North America and the Caribbean, the United States lost 3-1 at Costa Rica, Mexico was upset 2-1 by visiting Honduras and Panama was held to a 0-0 tie at home by last-place Jamaica.

Only five teams are assured World Cup berths thus far: host Brazil and Asian qualifiers Australia, Iran, Japan and South Korea.

Germany and Italy would clinch first place in their groups with wins Tuesday. Germany beat Austria 3-0 as Miroslav Klose scored his 68th international goal, tying Gerd Mueller's German record. Italy defeated Bulgaria 1-0 on Alberto Gilardino's 38th-minute goal.

Ronaldo scored in the 68th, 77th and 83rd minutes as Portugal rallied for a 4-2 win at Northern Ireland. While he has 20 hat tricks for Real Madrid and one for Manchester United, he had never scored three goals in a match for his country.

With 43 international goals, he moved two ahead of Eusebio on Portugal's career and trails only Pauleta's 47. Portugal, which has two games left, opened a two-point lead in Group F over Russia, which has three matches remaining.

Belgium opened a five-point lead in Group A with a 2-0 win at Scotland as Steven Defour and Kevin Mirallas scored.

Bosnia-Herzegovina lost 1-0 at home to Slovakia and leads Group G on goal difference over Greece, which won 1-0 at Liechtenstein on Costas Mitroglou's 72nd-minute goal.

Ukraine routed San Marino 9-0 and is one point behind England, which leads Group H on goal difference over Montenegro, which tied 1-1 at Poland.

Crowd violence marred Romania's 3-0 win over Hungary in Group D. Five fans and two police officers were injured in pregame skirmishes. Serbia and Croatia drew 1-1 in a heated match between former Yugoslav territories, eliminating the Serbs from contention.

In CONCACAF, Honduras won 2-1 at Mexico, sending El Tri to its second-ever home loss in qualifying and first since 2001 against Costa Rica. Oribe Peralta put El Tri ahead in the sixth minute at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca, but Jerry Bengtson tied the score in the 66th after goalkeeper Jose Corona spilled Oscar Boniek Garcia's shot, and Carlo Costly put the Catrachos ahead two minutes later off a long clearance.

Costa Rica beat the visiting United States 3-1 on goals by Johnny Acosta, Celso Borges and Joel Campbell, avenging a March loss in a Colorado snow storm. Clint Dempsey converted a penalty kick in his 100th American appearance.

Panama was held to a 0-0 tie by visiting Jamaica.

The Ticos moved into first place with 14 points, one ahead of the U.S. with three games remaining. Honduras is third with 10 points, Mexico fourth with eight points and Panama is another point back after behind held to a 0-0 tie at home by last-place Jamaica. The top three nations qualify, and the fourth-place finisher goes to a playoff against New Zealand.

In South America, Luis Suarez converted a 43rd-minute penalty kick and added a 67th-minute goal, lifting Uruguay to a 2-1 win at Peru, which got an 84th-minute goal from Jefferson Farfan. Colombia won 1-0 at home against Ecuador on James Rodriguez's 31st-minute goal; Paraguay routed visiting Bolivia 4-0 on goals by Jonathan Fabbro, Roque Santa Cruz, Richard Ortiz and Gustavo Gomez; Chile defeated Venezuela 3-0 on goals by Eduardo Vargas, Marcos Gonzalez and Arturo Vidal.

Argentina and Colombia lead with 26 points each, while Chile has 24, Ecuador 21 and Uruguay 19. Venezuela trails with 16, two in front of Peru. The top four teams qualify.

In the first leg of the Asian playoff, Uzbekistan tied 1-1 at Jordan. The second leg is Tuesday, and the winner advances to a playoff against South America's fifth-place team.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
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