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Euro 2016: Qualifying groups begin to take shape

It was goals galore on Friday as European teams battled in the qualifying rounds for the Euro 2016.

Caption: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to take a free kick during his team's Euro 2016 qualifying game against Armenia on 14 November 2014. Picture: Official Euro 2016 Facebook page.

REUTERS - Shaun Maloney's moment of sublime skill gave Scotland their first home victory over Ireland in 53 years as they beat their neighbours 1-0 in their Euro 2016 Group D qualifier at Celtic Park on Friday.

Described afterwards as "an epic duel" by Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, who, like Friday's counterpart Martin O'Neill, is a former Celtic manager, the game was played at a breakneck pace, oozing passion and with endless physical challenges.

There were only occasional flashes of skill but no shortage of excitement, commitment and an old-fashioned physicality to the match.

Scotland defender Grant Hanley was lucky to stay on the field after bringing down Shane Long to break up an attack just 12 minutes in and he was also lucky not to score an own goal late in the game when he headed against his own bar.

GERMANY NET FOUR

World champions Germany sauntered past minnows Gibraltar 4-0 in their qualifier to bounce back from a rocky start but coach Joachim Loew was far from pleased with the performance.

Thomas Mueller struck twice before Mario Goetze added another in the first half with Yogan Santos netting an own goal in a low-key second period as the hosts, who lost to Poland and drew with Ireland in their last two qualifiers, eased off.

"I am everything but satisfied with this," Loew told reporters. "The team did not do what we wanted to do. We wanted to play as world champions and four goals are too few."

"We did not hold our positions. Obviously there were 10 of their players around the box but we did not do it well in the second half."

The win lifted Germany to seven points from four games, three behind Group D leaders Poland.

RONALDO RESCUES PORTUGAL

Cristiano Ronaldo scrambled a second-half goal to give Portugal an uninspiring 1-0 win over Armenia in their qualifier in Faro.

The Portugal captain broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute when the ball rebounded to him two metres from goal after Roman Berezovski saved Ricardo Quaresma's shot, although he still needed two attempts to put it in.

It was his 52nd goal in 117 appearances and made him the competition's all-time top scorer in qualifying and finals combined, but it was the high point of an otherwise below-par performance which included firing three free kicks straight into the defensive wall.

Portugal moved second in Group I with six points from three games while Armenia are on one point.

FRIDAY RESULTS:

Group D

Georgia 0-4 Poland

Germany 4-0 Gibraltar

Scotland 1-0 R. of Ireland

Group F

Greece 0-1 Faroe Islands

Hungary 1-0 Finland

Romania 2-0 Northern Ireland

Group I

Portugal 1-0 Armenia

Serbia 1-3 Denmark

SATURDAY FIXTURES:

Group C

Luxembourg V Ukraine

Macedonia V Slovakia

Spain V Belarus

Group E

England V Slovenia

San Marino V Estonia

Switzerland V Lithuania

Group G

Austria V Russia

Moldova V Liechtenstein

Montenegro V Sweden