Portugal, Russia Win World Cup Qualifiers

Russia beats Luxemburg 4-1 in World Cup qualifier

Watch the exchange above. Hagel appeared along with Secretary of State John Kerry at the Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill. The Associated Press reports : Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, made their arguments in public Wednesday before the House panel. They and other senior administration officials also provided classified briefings to the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees. As anti-war demonstrators seated behind him silently raised their red-colored hands, Kerry told the Foreign Affairs committee that the world’s nations were watching Congress. “They want to know whether or not America is going to rise to this moment,” said Kerry. Hagel seconded Obama’s warnings about the potential scope of danger from failing to uphold international standards, saying “a refusal to act would undermine the credibility of America’s other security commitments including the president’s commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” Also on HuffPost: Loading Slideshow Syrian refugee, Ahmed al Delly, 59, from Daraa in Syria, reacts as he speaks about his wife, four sons, and two daughters, who are still in Daraa but he has had no contact with them, after the prayer of Eid al-Fitr, that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. (AP photo/Mohammad Hannon) This image provided by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show mourners next to bodies of victims of an attack on Ghouta, Syria on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013.

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After Alexander Kokorin struck twice as Fabio Capello’s Russia beat Luxembourg in Kazan to move provisionally to the top of the group. Portugal later restored its two-point lead as Ronaldo made the difference in an ill-tempered game that saw three red cards at Windsor Park. But the Russians, who recovered from their surprise 1-0 defeat in Northern Ireland last month, have one game in hand and remain in a good position to qualify automatically for the finals in Brazil. Portugal went into the match as favorites and Bruno Alves put the visitors ahead after 20 minutes. But West Bromwich Albion defender Gareth McAuley equalized with a fine header before Helder Postiga was sent off for an apparent headbutt in the 43rd minute. Portugal stumbled when Jamie Ward gave the home team a 2-1 lead in the 52nd but left-back Chris Brunt received a red card at the hour-mark. The dismissal lifted Portuguese spirits and Ronaldo leveled in the 68th, heading home a corner from Joao Moutinho. Left unmarked at the far post, Ronaldo doubled his tally with another header from close range and scored his 43rd international goal in the 83rd with a low free kick, minutes after Kyle Lafferty was sent off for a late challenge. “I thought up until 60 minutes and Chris Brunt’s sending off, we were the better team and in control of the game,” Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill said. “I thought they scored against the run of play and we responded well to that having gone into our shell a little bit. But then obviously the second sending off left us that man short and subsequently we weren’t able to deal with that.” In Kazan, a heavy downpour forced officials to delay the kickoff by an hour but the Russians did not waste time and scored inside 20 seconds when Kokorin lobbed Luxembourg goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert after collecting a pass from Alexander Kerzhakov. Kokorin doubled his team’s lead in the 35th minute with a header into the bottom-left corner.

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6, 2013. Photo: Peter Morrison Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, right, wins the ball from Northern… Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, right, wins the ball from Northern Ireland’s Steven Davis during their World Cup Group F qualifier soccer match at Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Photo: Peter Morrison Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, right, wins the ball from Northern… Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo gets a yellow card from referee Danny Makkelie during their 2014 World Cup Group F qualifier soccer match against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Photo: Peter Morrison Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo gets a yellow card from referee Danny… Russia’s Aleksandr Kerzhakov, left, and Luxembourg’s Chris Philipps fight for the ball during their World Cup group F qualifying soccer match in Kazan, Russia, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Photo: Nikolai Alexandrov Russia’s Aleksandr Kerzhakov, left, and Luxembourg’s Chris Philipps…

Russia, the Olympic bronze medalist last year and bronze medalist at the Europeans two years ago, now looks unlikely to make the second round after three straight defeats. Sweden is 1-2. Also Saturday, defending champion Spain limited the Czech Republic to two points in the final quarter in Celje and ran away with a 60-39 victory despite its own poor shooting. Jonas Jerebko added 22 points and 13 rebounds for Sweden in the Group D game in Koper. Sweden pulled away in the final quarter after leading for most of the game. Aleksey Shved had 15 points for Russia and Semen Antonov added 13. Spain missed its last seven 3-point attempts and was marginally more effective than the Czechs in the fourth. The Czechs shot 24 percent from the field and Spain 32 percent. The Czechs pulled within five late in the third quarter but Spain then raised its defense. Rudy Fernandez had 14 points and Ricky Rubio added 10 for Spain. Marc Gasol scored his only basket halfway into the third quarter but pulled down 10 rebounds. Spain is 2-1 in Group C. Jan Vesely had seven points and 14 rebounds and Lubos Barton had 12 rebounds and five points for the Czechs, who fell to 1-2. Top three teams from each of the four groups advance to the second round.