The Republic of Ireland and Czech Republic drew 1-1 in a lively fixture between two Euro 2012 finalists at the Aviva Stadium. The visitors took a 50th minute lead through Milan Baros in an exciting end to a game. Unfortunately without the missing Tomáš Rosický the Czech Republic couldn’t close out the contest and Ireland’s Simon Cox saved face for the hosts with just three minutes remaining to rescue a draw for the Boys in Green.
Uruguay made a superb start to their game against Romania as Edinson Cavani scored in two minutes on a snowy night at Romania's new National Arena stadium. The Napoli striker could have doubled the lead on 15 minutes but was denied by the post from close range. The miss proved costly as Romania drew level in the second half through striker Bogdan Stancu. In the end a 1-1 draw was the fair result and cements Uruguay’s position as the best team in South America with the Copa America holders matching their national record of 14 games unbeaten.
Austria were comfortable winners as they beat Finland 3-1 in the HYPO Group Arena. The visitors hardly helped themselves when with 32 minutes on the clock Finnish goal keeper Lucas Hradecky attempted clearance hit Marc Janko and looped over him into an empty net. Things didn’t get any better for the Hradecky who was out jumped by Martin Harnik to head in Austria’s second and beaten from the spot by Andreas Ivanschitz to cap off a great night for the home team. The Finns will get little consolation from scoring the goal of the game, Timo Furuholm’s smart volley to make it 3-1 in the last minute.
Belarus followed up last November’s draw against Libya with a creditable 0-0 draw at Moldova. The clean sheet will be pleasing to the Belarusians. It was their first in five games and first away from home since their 0-4 victory at Oman.
Switzerland came up against an in form Lionel Messi as the World Player of the Year scored his first international hat trick. Sergio Agüero played his teammate in for the opening goal of the game on 20 minutes. The visitors threatened to run away with it for a while but the Swiss defence held firm. Then Stephan Lichtsteiner turned defense into attack and provided the cross for Xherdan Shaqiri to equalise early in the second half. For a long time it looked as if the Swiss had done enough to claim a well-earned draw then with two minutes left Messi pounced with a trademark solo effort and added another in injury time to make it 1-3.
With Ghana back in action for the first time since the Africa Cup of Nations against Chile tonight this week has proved to be a feast of football.