World Cup qualifying round up with Mario Balotelli and Robin van Persie both scoring twice

Super Mario continues scoring streak with two goals for Italy… and Van Persie moves above legend Cruyff in Dutch record books

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

23:49 GMT, 26 March 2013

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UPDATED:

23:59 GMT, 26 March 2013

Mario Balotelli continued his hot streak in front of goals with both goals in Italy's 2-0 win over Malta.

The former Manchester City striker struck a penalty home in the eighth minute before rounding off the win with a cheeky lob inside the area on the stroke of half-time.

The victory, which also saw keeper Gianluigi Buffon deny Malta's Michael Mifsud from the penalty spot, puts Italy three points clear of Bulgaria at the top of Group B.

All smiles: Mario Balotelli celebrates scoring his second goal in Italy's 2-0 win over Malta, and in action (below)

All smiles: Mario Balotelli celebrates scoring his second goal in Italy's 2-0 win over Malta, and in action (below)

MALTA, MALTA - MARCH 26: Mario Balotelli of Italy#9 and Gareth Sciberras of Malta compete for the ball during the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier match between Malta and Italy at Ta Qali Stadium on March 26, 2013 in Malta, Malta.

Meanwhile, Robin van Persie's season got even better as a brace in Holland's comfortable 4-0 win over Romania lifted him above Dutch legend Johann Cryuff in the national side's all-time scoring table.

Former Spurs midfielder Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring in the 11th minute, while after the break Van Persie struck twice, the second a penalty, and Jeremain Lens added a fourth in the final minute to leave the Netherlands seven points clear at the top of Group D.

Van Persie wasn't the only Premier League player starring in their national sides' win, as Chelsea's Eden Hazard netted the only goal of the game in Belgium's victory over Macedeonia.

Jubilation: Robin van Persie celebrates topping Johan Cryuff's scoring record, and with Arjen Robben (below)

Jubilation: Robin van Persie celebrates topping Johan Cryuff's scoring record, and with Arjen Robben (below)

RVP

The winger took the ball past two defenders before firing low with his left foot to cement his side's place at the top of Group A above Wales' conquerers Croatia.

Liverpool centre back Daniel Agger was also on target, salvaging Denmark a point against Bulgaria by converting from the spot to earn a 1-1 draw.

Watford's on-loan star Matej Vydra was another English-based player to score twice, setting the Czech republic well on their way to a 3-0 victory at Armenia before the visitors sealed the win through substitute Daniel Kolar.

On target: Chelsea's Eden Hazard scored Belgium's only goal in their triumph over Macedonia

On target: Chelsea's Eden Hazard scored Belgium's only goal in their triumph over Macedonia

In England's group, Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Khacheridi helped 10-man Ukraine edge to a 2-1 win over Moldova, who grabbed a late consolation through Alexandr Suvorov.

Robert Lewandowski scored two penalties either side of Lukasz Piszczek's strike, while Lukasz Teodorczyk and Jakub Kosecki were also on the scoresheet as Poland hammered San Marino 5-0.

On the up: Watford's Czech Republic striker Matej Vydra celebrates after scoring his second goal

On the up: Watford's Czech Republic striker Matej Vydra celebrates after scoring his second goal

Germany moved five points clear of Sweden at the top of Group C after their Borussia Dortmund connection inspired them to a 4-1 win over Kazakhstan.

Marco Reus was on target twice with Mario Gotze and Ilkay Gundogan also scoring for Joachim Low's men.

Top of the group: Marco Reus of Germany scores his team's fourth goal in their rout over Kazakhstan

Top of the group: Marco Reus of Germany scores his team's fourth goal in their rout over Kazakhstan

Greuther Furth's Heinrich Schmidtgal scored a consolation for the visitors, who caused Germany an unexpectedly high number of problems in the second half.

Stuttering Portugal also claimed a win, with second-half goals from Bruno Alves and Hugo Almeida sealing a 2-0 Group F victory at 10-man Azerbaijan.