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Euro Qualifiers: Germany stun Netherlands; Croatia lose

Last updated on: March 25, 2019 08:58 IST

Germany

IMAGE: Netherlands' Memphis Depay scores their second goal. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Germany defender Nico Schulz scored a late winner as their new-look side snatched a 3-2 win away to the Netherlands in their opening Euro 2020 Group C qualifier on Sunday, an absorbing clash that swung in fortunes from one side to the other.

 

Germany had seemed well set for victory after a superb first half produced goals for Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry to give coach Joachim Loew an unexpected fillip as he seeks to restore the flagging fortunes of the 2014 world champions.

But some of the frailties of the last 12 months returned as they let their grip on the game slip, with Memphis Depay laying on a goal for Matthijs de Ligt and then scoring the equaliser himself in another influential display from the in-form forward.

Wing-back Schulz produced the decisive moment of the match though when he netted in the final minute after a fine build-up down the left to re-establish Germany's advantage and claim a crucial victory to get their qualifying campaign underway.

Northern Ireland head the group after goals from Jonny Evans and Josh Magennis gave them a 2-1 win over Belarus on Sunday and a perfect start of six points from two games.

Germany and the Netherlands have three points each, though the latter have now played two matches.

After Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen had denied Gnabry at close range, the visitors hit the front as Schulz provided a low cross from the left from which Sane took a touch and scored with a powerful shot.

A rampant Germany doubled their advantage after 34 minutes as Gnabry twisted his way around Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk before curling a 25-metre shot into the corner of the net, the fifth international goal in six caps for the former Arsenal forward.

The Dutch pulled one back within three minutes of the halftime break though as Depay provided an inviting cross for teenage defender De Ligt to head home his first international goal.

Depay, fresh from two goals and two assists on Thursday against Belarus, levelled the score just past the hour-mark with a low finish into the bottom corner as the visitors failed to clear the loose ball in the box.

It was the second time since November that the Netherlands had come from two goals down to equalise against Germany, and for Depay it was his 11th goal in his last 15 internationals.

But the visitors had the final say as Marco Reus’s pass found an unmarked Schulz in the box and he was able to settle the contest with a low finish that gave Cillessen no chance.

Valiant Hungary fight back to stun Croatia 2-1

Hungary

IMAGE: Hungary's Mate Patkai celebrates. Photograph: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

Hungary midfielder Mate Patkai scored his first international goal to secure a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over World Cup runners-up Croatia in a Euro 2020 Group E qualifier on Sunday.

The result in a pulsating match threw the group wide open after Wales beat Slovakia 1-0 in Cardiff earlier on Sunday.

Slovakia, Wales, Hungary and Croatia have three points each while Azerbaijan have none, although like the Welsh the Azeris have only played one game while the rest have played two.

The Croatians, who laboured to a 2-1 home win over Azerbaijan on Thursday, appeared set for plain sailing when Ante Rebic gave them a sixth-minute lead from close range after Andrej Kramaric poked a low cross into his path.

But Hungary, roared on by a fervent home crowd in the Groupama Arena, levelled in the 34th through striker Adam Szalai who took a clever Balazs Dzsudzsak pass into his stride and powered his shot past keeper Lovre Kalinic from a tight angle.

Captain Dzsudzsak, who celebrated a milestone 100th international appearance with a fine display, was at the heart of Hungary's spirited performance which was rewarded by Patkai's 76th-minute winner after Croatia failed to clear a corner.

Croatia substitute Marin Leovac failed to head away the inswinging set piece and Patkai steered the ball past Kalinic from two metres to delight the home faithful while silencing a large contingent of vocal away fans.

Hungary, who lost 2-0 away to Slovakia in their opener, nearly scored again several minutes later as Croatia cleared the ball of the line three times in a frantic goalmouth scramble and failed to threaten at the other end in the closing stages.

Hazard marks milestone with early goal to help Belgium win

Eden Hazard

IMAGE: Belgium's Eden Hazard in action with Cyprus' Kostakis Artymatas and Georgios Efrem. Photograph: Yiannis Kourtoglou/Reuters

Eden Hazard marked his 100th cap with an early goal to set Belgium on their way to a comfortable 2-0 away win over Cyprus in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Sunday.

Michy Batshuayi got the other goal for the top team in the FIFA rankings, who began their campaign last Thursday with a 3-1 home success over Russia and now have six points from their opening two games in Group I.

Hazard opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a curling shot after Batshuayi had set him up. It was his 30th international goal as the 28-year-old Chelsea star became the third Belgian to reach the 100-cap mark after Jan Vertonghen and Axel Witsel.

Batshuayi doubled the score eight minutes later, running on to a pass over the top of the home defence from Thorgan Hazard, knocking it past the onrushing goalkeeper Urko Pardo and sliding the ball into the empty net from a tight angle.

Belgium, without injured regulars Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Witsel, cruised through the rest of the contest to stretch to 12 games their unbeaten record against the Cypriots, who had beaten San Marino 5-0 at home on Thursday in their opening qualifier.

Earlier on Thursday, Denis Cheryshev scored twice as Russia won 4-0 away in Kazakhstan for their first points of the campaign.

His first-half pair of goals were followed by two more early in the second half in Arana, from Artem Dzyuba and an own goal by Kazakh defender Abzal Beysebekov.

James scorcher gives Wales win over Slovakia

Euro

IMAGE: Wales' Gareth Bale and team mates celebrate after the match. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Wales made a winning start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign after Daniel James scored his first international goal on his competitive debut to give them a 1-0 home win over Slovakia in a lively Group E clash on Sunday.

The Swansea midfielder delighted the home fans in a packed Cardiff City stadium when he robbed defender Peter Pekarik of the ball and unleashed a stinging low shot past keeper Martin Dubravka in the fifth minute.

The Slovakians, who beat Hungary 2-0 at home in their opening match on Thursday, went close to snatching a draw in the second half but were denied by a pair of superb saves from Wayne Hennessey.

The Wales keeper thwarted Albert Rusnak from close range in the 54th minute and kept out a Michal Duris header with an acrobatic save in the 74th as the visitors pressed forward relentlessly in search of an equaliser.

In between those two chances, Dubravka somehow parried a stinging Harry Wilson volley while Pekarik almost made amends for his early error when he headed inches wide of the far post in the closing stages.

Scotland fail to impress in 2-0 win over San Marino

Scotland beat San Marino 2-0 to avoid a second humiliation of the week and get their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign up and running on Sunday although it was hardly a performance to excite their fans.

Kenny McLean's glancing header put the Scots ahead after four minutes against the tiny republic in northern Italy but it was not until the 74th minute that Johnny Russell made the points safe with a powerful finish.

Scotland were lambasted for losing 3-0 to 117th-ranked Kazakhstan in their opening Group I fixture on Thursday.

San Marino, 211th and bottom of FIFA's rankings, have never won a competitive match and never looked like doing so against a Scotland side reeling from their abject display in Kazakhstan.

They did make things awkward though after falling behind early -- so much so that there were groans of frustration from the Tartan Army inside the Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle.

Manager Alex McLeish was even booed at halftime.

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