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Euro qualifiers: Scrappy wins for Spain, Italy

September 06, 2019 08:52 IST
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IMAGES from the Euro 2020 qualifiers

Spain survive Romania onslaught to secure fifth win

Spain's Saul Niguez and Sergio Ramos celebrate after defeating Romania in their Euro 2020 Qualifier Group F match at Arena Nationala, Bucharest in Romania on Thursday

IMAGE: Spain's Saul Niguez and Sergio Ramos celebrate after defeating Romania in their Euro 2020 Qualifier Group F match at Arena Nationala, Bucharest in Romania on Thursday. Photograph: Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

Spain made it five wins out of five in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign by earning a scrappy 2-1 victory in Romania on Thursday despite playing the final stages with 10 men after defender Diego Llorente was sent off.


Captain Sergio Ramos gave Spain a deserved lead in the 27th minute by converting a penalty to score a fourth goal in five European qualifiers, his third from the spot.

Spain created numerous chances to score more goals but were repeatedly denied by outstanding reflex saves from Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

Paco Alcacer put the visitors further at ease by scoring early in the second half after missing three earlier chances, but substitute Florin Andone brought Romania back into contention with a close-range strike in the 59th minute.

The goal galvanized the vociferous home crowd and they grew more determined after Llorente was shown a straight red card with 11 minutes left for denying a clear scoring opportunity with a foul.

Spain were let off the hook when George Puscas blazed over the bar in stoppage-time after an outstanding save from goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and they clung on to earn a first win away to Romania at the seventh attempt.

It was also a welcome first win for Moreno, who became Spain coach in June in unfortunate circumstances when Luis Enrique stepped down to spend more time with his daughter, who died from cancer last week aged nine.

Moreno said the nature of the victory would serve his team well in the long run.

"This will make us grow as a team, we had to defend together and attack quickly, I think this could be good for us, we should congratulate ourselves for getting this result and we're very happy" he told reporters.

"We knew Romania would put us under pressure until the end, they did that against Sweden and Norway when they were losing in the last few minutes and managed to score. It's a shame we couldn't score more as we created a lot of chances."

Moreno's side top Group F with 15 points from five games, Sweden are second with 10 after thrashing the Faroe Islands 4-0 away from home, while Norway are third on eight after beating Malta 2-0. Romania slipped down to fourth place on seven.

Sweden produced a first-half blitz against the Faroe Islands, with teenage forward Alexander Isak heading home the opener in the 13th minute and scoring again moments later with a sweeping low finish.

Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof grabbed the third by lashing into the bottom corner and Robin Quaison netted the fourth.

Sander Berge put Norway in front against Malta and striker Josh King doubled the lead from the penalty spot on the stroke of halftime.

Belotti double as Italy hit back to beat 10-man Armenia

Armenia's Karlen Mkrtchyan and Varazdat Haroyan vie with Italy's Andrea Belotti during their Euro 2020 Qualifier Group J match at Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium in Yerevan, Armenia on Wednesday

IMAGE: Armenia's Karlen Mkrtchyan and Varazdat Haroyan vie with Italy's Andrea Belotti during their Euro 2020 Qualifier Group J match at Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium in Yerevan, Armenia on Wednesday. Photograph: Anton Vaganov/Reuters

Italy recovered from an early shock as they came from behind to beat Armenia 3-1 in a Euro 2020 qualifier on Thursday, the hosts playing the entire second half with 10 men after goalscorer Aleksandre Karapetyan was sent off.

Karapetyan fired Armenia in front in the 13th minute of the Group J match but was dismissed in first-half stoppage time for a second yellow card in what seemed a very harsh decision.

Italy, who had levelled through Andrea Belotti in the 28th minute, wrapped up the match in the last 15 minutes with Lorenzo Pellegrini's first goal for his country and another strike from Belotti.

It was anything but easy for Italy, however, as Armenia threatened with a series of counter-attacks before running out of gas towards the end.

Leaders Italy maintained their 100 percent record in the group with 15 points from five games while Finland, who have never qualified for the finals, stayed second with 12 after a 1-0 win over Greece thanks to a Teemu Pukki penalty.

Bosnia's 5-0 win over Liechtenstein took them third with seven while Armenia, 3-2 winners over Greece in their previous match, are fourth on six. Greece, the 2004 champions, have four.

"Their sending-off made it difficult for us as they closed up their defence," said Italy coach Roberto Mancini.

"Today it was difficult to play: our players have two league games under their belts, Armenia are in mid-season. It's not an excuse, it's the truth."

Armenia stunned the visitors when Tigran Barseghyan broke up an Italy attack, surged out of defence and slipped the ball to Karapetyan who scored with a low shot from the edge of the area.

Belotti levelled in the 28th minute, volleying home a cross from Emerson, one of two Brazilian-born players in their side alongside Jorginho

Federico Bernardeschi and Belotti both clipped the woodwork before Karapetyan was given a second yellow card after a challenge on Leonardo Bonucci.

Although Armenia closed ranks after the break, they launched some very threatening breaks and, in one, Kamo Hovhannisyan burst down the left touchline, running 70 metres before finding Henrikh Mkhitaryan whose shot was deflected wide.

With Mancini increasingly agitated on the touchline, Bonucci swung a high ball into the area and Pellegrini touched it into the net with a neat header in the 77th minute.

Three minutes later, Belotti turned his marker and his shot hit the foot of the post, struck goalkeeper Aram Airapetyan and ricocheted into the net.

Pukki converted a 52nd-minute penalty in Tampere as Finland chalked up their fourth win in five matches after Dimitris Kourbelis had fouled Glen Kamara. The Finns host Italy on Sunday.

Bosnia scored four goals in the last 10 minutes to thump Liechtenstein.

Amer Gojak gave Bosnia an 11th minute lead, sweeping home Edin Dzeko's pass, but they had to wait until the 80th minute to score again when Haris Duljevic's shot ricocheted off Andreas Malin and into the net for an own goal.

Dzeko, Edin Visca and Gojak with his second completed the scoring as Liechtenstein collapsed.

Ireland grab late draw with Switzerland as Danes close the gap

Republic of Ireland's Callum Robinson in action with Switzerland's Denis Zakaria during their Euro 2020 Qualifier Group D match at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland on Wednesday

IMAGE: Republic of Ireland's Callum Robinson in action with Switzerland's Denis Zakaria during their Euro 2020 Qualifier Group D match at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland on Wednesday. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

David McGoldrick's first international goal grabbed Ireland a potentially crucial 1-1 draw in their Euro 2020 qualifier with Switzerland on Thursday as an easy victory for rivals Denmark in Gibraltar kept things incredibly tight at the top of Group D.

Fabian Schar looked like he had won it for the visitors on 74 minutes when he finished off a brilliantly worked team goal but just as they did in Copenhagen in June, Ireland secured a point near the death thanks to McGoldrick's 85th-minute header.

"We're not the best team in the group but I'll tell you what, you're going to have to put us down before we give up," Ireland manager Mick McCarthy told a news conference, likening the atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium to his days as captain under Jack Charlton's Irish team of 30 years ago.

"We've got a point against a very good side, who for periods of that game were better than us, a team full of very good players playing from good clubs... (My) players just keep going, they give me everything. They're absolutely brilliant."

The draw kept McCarthy's men on top of the group with 11 points from five games, three ahead of Denmark, who have one game in hand and a much better goal difference. Ireland are six points clear of the Swiss, who have played two fewer games.

In Gibraltar, Denmark were easy 6-0 winners thanks to two Christian Eriksen penalties, a Christian Gytkjaer brace from open play and one each for Robert Skov and Thomas Delaney.

Ireland, who had the easier start of the three contending sides grabbing six points against Gibraltar and a home win over Georgia, created the two best chances in the first half against their more dangerous-looking opponents.

Winger James McClean should have done better early on after being put through following nice link-up play by Callum Robinson and Jeff Hendrick while McGoldrick should have found his Sheffield United team mate Robinson with a ball across the face of the goal just before the break.

Switzerland, without Xherdan Shaqiri who asked not to be selected to concentrate on his club football at Liverpool, continued to press intermittently early in the second half but were getting little change from Ireland's centre-half pairing of Richard Keogh and Shane Duffy.

When they finally got a clear chance after some slick play in the box, Breel Embolo slipped and fell on his backside with the goal seemingly at his mercy and the ball dribbled harmlessly wide.

There only looked like one winner at that point though as the Borussia Moenchengladbach man nearly made up for his slip before Newcastle defender Schar struck, the culmination of some brilliant one touch football.

But Ireland would not give up and after Glenn Whelan smashed the crossbar with a rocket from outside the box, McGoldrick rose highest from the resulting cross to the delight of the Aviva Stadium crowd, where Ireland will play two Euro 2020 group games if they qualify.

"It's been a long time coming," the 31-year-old late bloomer said in a pitchside interview after notching his first Irish goal in 11 caps.

"We've got some tough games to come, but if we play like that it will stand us in good stead."

The chasing teams can close the gap on Sunday with the Danes travelling to Georgia and Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic saying his side will be chasing goals against bottom-placed Gibraltar to close an eight-goal gap on goal difference between them and Denmark.

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