England boss Fabio Capello might be focused on beating Wales counterpart Gary Speed at Wembley on Tuesday but the Italian could be forgiven for giving the former Leeds and Newcastle midfielder a particularly warm welcome before kick-off.
In masterminding Wales’ win over Montenegro on Friday, Speed provided a huge boost to England’s hopes of making it to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
However, Speed is unlikely to dwell too much on the ramifications of his side’s victory on England’s qualification chances.
Instead, he will be breathing a sigh of relief that his players were able to secure only their second win in nine matches.
Montenegro were certainly the form team going into the game with three wins and two draws from their five games in group G, putting them level on points with England at the top of the table.
With Wales without a point from their first four games, the odds were stacked against them.
They were 21/10 to secure all three points, with a Montenegro win at 5/4 and a draw at 9/4.
As such, those who successfully gambled on a Welsh victory would have secured £77.50 if they used the £25 free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
Those who backed an England win against Bulgaria would not have done so at such attractive odds, with Capello’s side 1/2 favourites before kick-off with bwin.
Nevertheless, they might be contented with the realisation that England are now three points clear of Montenegro with just two games left to play.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s status as favourites in their match against Czech Republic looked to have been justified until the dying seconds of the game when the away side were awarded a controversial penalty at Hampden Park.
The subsequent conversion by Michal Kadlec left Scotland boss Craig Levein fuming, although punters who backed a draw would have been happy given the odds of 21/10.
Ireland were also held at home having been favourites to win their contest, with Slovakia securing a draw priced at 23/10.
Finally, Northern Ireland were unable to use their home advantage to good effect against Serbia and went down 1-0, although the away side had been favourites to win at 11/10.
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