• 'No quick fix,' says new Scottish manager Gordon Strachan
• Spain back in business with 1-0 win over France in Paris

Scotland's fading hopes of qualifying for the next World Cup were erased by two late goals in Novi Sad from a Serbia side which thus maintained its own tenuous prospects of advancement. Gordon Strachan, whose first match in charge of the national team on Friday ended in a 2-1 home defeat by Wales, who came from a goal down, saw his side falter once again as they created the unwelcome record of having gone seven qualifying games without a win.

"I thought technically they were a right good side and physically they were stronger than us," Strachan told BBC Radio Scotland. "It's not a quick fix to get as strong and technically gifted as that. But there's lots of things I know I can work on."

The Serbian forward Filip Djuricic took maximum advantage of two routine balls into the box in the 59th and 65th minutes to bring some cheer to his supporters after the 2-0 defeat by their neighbours and bitter rivals Croatia, who were 2-1 winners in Wales.

Travelling Scottish fans had helped clear the pitch of snow beforehand. They may now wish they had not.

Northern Ireland's night was uncomfortably similar to Scotland's as they also succumbed to two late goals –from Lion Refaelov and Eden Ben Basat – in a 2-0 defeat by Israel at Windsor Park, which was just about playable after the weekend's icy postponements of the scheduled match with Russia.

Spain got back to business as usual after being held 1-1 at home by Finland on Friday as they earned a 1-0 win in Paris over a France side which had Paul Pogba sent off for a second yellow card in the 78th minute. Pedro scored the goal in the 56th minute, taking Spain top of their group in place of France.

Mario Balotelli, scorer of an outstanding goal in Italy's 2-2 friendly draw with Brazil, contributed two more to his country's cause in Malta. A 2-0 win extended Italy's lead in Group B.

Germany, despite playing once again without a recognised striker, managed a 4-1 win over Kazakhstan that keeps them in control of their group. Holland are sticking to their recognised striker, however – and Robin van Persie scored twice in a 4-0 win over Romania.

Meanwhile Portugal, despite being without Cristiano Ronaldo, ended their run of five games without a win with a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan in Baku to renew their qualification prospects.


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