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Euro 2016 Qualifiers Roundup: England and Slovakia Stay Perfect

Bulgaria and Italy battled to a 2-2 draw. (AP Image)

World Soccer Report

A hectic weekend of European qualifiers is over. We saw some great games, some great goals, and a big scandal in Montenegro as their game against Russia got abandoned after people in the stand kept throwing things onto the pitch. Here’s a short roundup of all the action.

Group A

Kazakhstan 0 – 3 Iceland
Czech Republic 1 – 1 Latvia
Netherlands 1 – 1 Turkey

The Netherlands needed a late equalizer. (AP)

The Netherlands needed a late equalizer. (AP)

Comment: Dream results for Iceland as they beat Kazakhstan easily and close in on the Czech Republic at the top of Group A. The Czechs were struggling at home against Latvia and went down 1-0 in the first half. Vaclav Pilar got the equalizer in the 90th minute to rescue one point. The Netherlands managed to salvage a draw against Turkey, thanks to a late equalizer by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in stoppage time. The Czechs tops the group on 13 points, one point ahead of Iceland and six points ahead of the Netherlands.

 

Group B

Israel 0 – 3 Wales
Andorra 0 – 3 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Belgium 5 – 0 Cyprus

Comment: Wales top the group after a fine performance against Israel. Gareth Bale scored on a beautiful free kick just on the edge of the penalty area, and later added a second goal. The Real Madrid midfielder showed why he’s considered among the top players in the world right now. Edin Dzeko scored a hat trick for Bosnia and Herzegovina as they beat last-placed Andorra 3-0 and got their first win in the qualifications. Belgium crushed Cyprus 5-0 at home and the Belgian side looks like a real force and Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini was in good form and scored two goals. Wales top the group on 11 points after five games, but second-placed Israel (9 points) and third-placed Belgium (8 points) meet up on Tuesday and if either of the teams win they would overtake Wales at the top.

 

Group C

FYR Macedonia 1 – 2 Belarus
Slovakia 3 – 0 Luxembourg
Spain 1 – 0 Ukraine

Spain's Alvaro Morata fights for the ball. (AP Image)

Spain’s Alvaro Morata fights for the ball. (AP Image)

Comment: Slovakia maintains their perfect record with a comfortable 3-0 win over Luxembourg and the Slovaks top Group C with 15 points in five games. Belarus got a scrappy 2-1 win away to Macedonia after going down early in the first half, the Belarusians came back in the second half and scored twice. Juventus striker Alvaro Morata got the lone goal as Spain beat Ukraine at home in Seville. The Spaniards are in second with 12 points and the Ukraine in third with 9 points.

 

Group D

Georgia 0 – 2 Germany
Scotland 6 – 1 Gibraltar
Ireland 1 – 1 Poland

Germany looks as strong as ever. (AP)

Germany looks as strong as ever. (AP)

Comment: Germany had a comfortable game away to Georgia that the won 2-0. The Germans had 16 shot attempts, six on goal and Georgia only managed to get two shot attempts and none on goal. Scotland demolished Gibraltar 6-1 with Steven Fletcher grabbing a hat trick. But Gibraltar got their first ever goal in a competition through Lee Casciaro. Ireland got a late draw against Poland in a very entertaining match at the Dublin Arena. Poland were the better team in the first half and grabbed the lead in the 26th minute when Slawomir Pezko scored. The Irish pushed on in the second half as Poland backed off and tried to hang on to the lead. Two balls hit the post and it looked like no matter what the Irish would do the ball wouldn’t find its way into the net. But substitute Shane Long got the equalizer in stoppage time. Poland leads the group on 11 points, one ahead of Germany and Scotland.

 

Group E

England 4 – 0 Lithuania
Slovenia 6 – San Marino
Switzerland 3 – 0 Estonia

England scored 80 seconds into the match. (AP)

England scored 80 seconds into the match. (AP)

Comment: England is the other team next to Slovakia that has a perfect record after five games. England dominated Lithuania and swept them aside easily 4-0. Harry Kane has been a success story so far this season in the Premier League and the Tottenham striker scored in his international debut as he came on as a substitute in the game. Manchester United star Wayne Rooney and England captain opened up the scoring after six minutes and after that it was a stroll in the park. Slovenia butchered San Marino 6-0 at home and had six different players score. The Slovenians are in second, six points behind England. Switzerland are in third, also with 9 points, same as Slovenia. They had an easy time against Estonia and it looks to be a good battle shaping up between Slovenia and Switzerland for the second spot which would mean a guaranteed spot in Euro 2016 in France.

 

Group F

Northern Ireland 2 – 1 Finland
Romania 1 – 0 Faroe Islands
Hungary 0 – 0 Greece

Kyle Lafferty scores against Finland. (AP)

Kyle Lafferty scores against Finland. (AP)

Comment: Kyle Lafferty was the big hero for Northern Ireland as he got both goals as they beat Finland 2-1. Even though the Finns had more of the possession, Northern Ireland created a lot of chances and got a well deserved victory. Romania struggled against the Faroe Islands and only got a 1-0 victory, but that’s enough to maintain the lead at the top of the table. Claudiu Keseru got the lone goal for Romania. Hungary and Greece played a scoreless draw in Budapest. Romania leads the group with 13 points, one ahead of Northern Ireland, and five points ahead of Hungary in third.

Group G

Liechtenstein 0 – 5 Austria
Moldova 0 – 2 Sweden
Montenegro – Russia (match abandoned)

Comment: The big story out of Group G was the scandal that took place in Montenegro. Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev got hit by firework thrown onto the pitch from the Montenegrin stand. The game was suspended and Akinfeev was taken to hospital with burn on his neck area. The referee decided to resume play, but after Roman Shirokov missed a penalty for Russia, more objects came flying onto the pitch and Russia left the pitch and the game was abandoned for good. It’s now up to UEFA to decide what to do, but most likely Russia will be awarded a 3-0 win. Sweden beat Moldova away after two goals by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish captain first scored a bizarre goals after the Moldovan goalkeeper tried to kick the ball upfield but hit Ibrahimovic in the head and the ball ended up in the back of the net. He later added a second from the penalty spot after Emil Forsberg was brought down inside the box. Austria destroyed Liechtenstein 5-0 on the road and they top the group on 13 points, four ahead of Sweden. If Russia is awarded the win, they will have 8 points.

Group H

Azerbaijan 2 – 0 Malta
Croatia 5 – 1 Norway
Bulgaria 2 – 2 Italy

Comment: Azerbaijan got their first win and points in the qualifications after beating Malta 2-0 at home. Neither team has much talent and won’t be anywhere near competing for one of the tickets to Euro 2016. Croatia put a thumping on Norway, and they now top the group with 13 points after five games. Italy rescued a late 2-2 draw against Bulgaria with Eder getting the 2-2 goal in the 84th minute. The Italians are in second, with 11 points and Norway sits in third with 9 points. Croatia and Italy will meet in June when we have the next round of qualifiers.

Group I

Albania 2 – 1 Armenia
Portugal 2 – 1 Serbia

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal got the win. (AP)

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal got the win. (AP)

Comment: Albania went down early to Armenia, but managed to turn things around in the second half after goals by Megrim Mavraj and Shkelzen Gashi. Portugal beat Serbia at home 2-1 after goals by 36-year-old veteran Ricardo Carvalho and Fabio Coentrao. Denmark had a day off from qualifiers, and played Euro 2016 host France in a friendly that they lost 2-0. Portugal leads the group on 9 points, Denmark is in second with 7 points, same as third-placed Albania.

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