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Euro Qualifiers: Serbia hold Portugal after Ronaldo suffers injury

Last updated on: March 26, 2019 08:21 IST
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Cristiano Ronaldo

IMAGE: Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo stands injured before being substituted off. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Wasteful Portugal were held to a 1-1 home draw by Serbia after their captain and top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo limped off with an apparent hamstring injury in the first half of their Euro 2020 Group B qualifier on Monday.

Dusan Tadic fired Serbia ahead with a seventh-minute penalty before Ronaldo was replaced by Pizzi on the half-hour and centre back Danilo equalised for the European champions with a spectacular long-range effort in the 42nd.

 

In the group's other fixture, Ukraine came from behind to win 2-1 in Luxembourg, who suffered heartbreak with a late own goal by Gerson Rodrigues, and go top with four points from two games. Luxembourg stay on three points and Portugal are on two.

Serbia have one point from one match and Lithuania have none after their shock 2-1 defeat in Luxembourg on Friday.

Having been held to a 0-0 home stalemate by Ukraine on Friday, Portugal were under pressure to deliver but fell behind after their goalkeeper Rui Patricio clattered into Mijat Gacinovic and Tadic converted the spot kick.

Ronaldo pulled up after sprinting for the ball and appeared to be in some discomfort as he pointed towards his right hamstring while he received treatment near the corner flag before signalling to come off.

Serbia keeper Marko Dmitrovic produced a string of superb saves before Danilo levelled with a thunderbolt from 25 metres, which cannoned into the net off the underside of the bar, after a darting run through the middle from the halfway line.

Portugal were also guilty of some poor finishing in the first half as William Carvalho fired wide from five metres in the fourth minute, with the visitors on the back foot throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Adem Ljajic blazed a shot over the bar for Serbia in the 56th minute before visiting defender Uros Spajic cleared a close-range Pizzi shot off the line as Portugal threw men forward in the closing stages.

Some desperate defending by Serbia kept Portugal at bay in the dying minutes and Raphael Guerreiro missed the home side's final chance in stoppage time when he hit the side netting with a fierce shot from inside the penalty area.

Luxembourg looked like earning a second straight upset when David Turpel fired them ahead in the 34th but Viktor Tsygankov equalised just before the break and Rodrigues then netted an own goal three minutes into added time to hand Ukraine the points.

Racist abuse tarnishes England win in Montenegro

England

IMAGE: Montenegro fans during the match. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

England's stunning 5-1 rout of Montenegro in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday was soured by racist abuse directed at some of their players leading to calls for stadium bans.

Defender Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants and Raheem Sterling, scorer of England's fifth goal, was also targeted, with racist abuse heard throughout the game.

Sterling called for Montenegro supporters to be banned from matches, while England manager Gareth Southgate said he would report the incidents to European soccer's governing body UEFA.

"I definitely heard abuse of Danny Rose when he got booked at the end of the game," said Southgate.

"There's no doubt in my mind that happened and we'll report it to UEFA. It's not acceptable," he added on ITV Sport.

Southgate said he had not had a chance to talk to Sterling, who gestured by cupping his hands to his ears towards a section of Montenegro fans when he scored late on.

Sterling told Sky Sports: "I didn't hear (racist chanting) personally but Danny (Rose) made it clear and (made me) aware that's what they were doing so I just wanted to show them that they were going to need more than that to upset us and stop us.

"It's a shame to see this keep going on. We can only bring awareness to the situation. It's now time for the people in charge to put a stamp on it. You can fine someone but what's that going to do? You've got to make it a bit harder.

"You've got to punish the whole fans who can't come to the games. You've got to do something that will really make them think twice because if their team can't play with fans it's going to be difficult for them."

Sterling later wrote on Twitter: "Best way to silence the haters...(and yeah I mean racists)"

Southgate, whose side have now hit 10 goals in two Group A games, added of the incidents: "I know what I heard. We'll definitely deal with it in the right way and we have to make sure we support our players."

In a separate interview with beIN Sports, he said: "The irony of football is that the dressing room is so united. No matter what religion, no matter what colour, but we still have these issues in society that overshadow that."

Southgate gave a first start to Chelsea's 18-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, who also said he had heard the racist behaviour.

The teenager, who became the second-youngest England player to start a competitive game, confirmed he heard monkey chants, marring what had been a memorable night in his career.

"You are trying to enjoy the moment but when you are hearing stuff like that from the fans, it's not right, it's unacceptable," he told beIN Sports.

"I don't think discrimination should be anywhere -- we are equal. Me and Rosey heard it, the 'oooh, oooh' monkey stuff.

"You just have to keep your heads, keep a strong mentality. Hopefully UEFA will deal with it," added Hudson-Odoi.

"Raheem has spoken to me about it and told me people will be rude and say things you don't want to hear. You block it out of your head but at the same time it should not happen. It's unacceptable."

The anti-discrimination group Kick it Out tweeted: "Disgraceful to hear racist chants directed at black @England players this evening.

"As we’ve argued countless times, it’s time for @UEFA to take strong, decisive action - fines won’t do.

"Extended stadium bans or tournament expulsion are what’s needed."

Former England striker Ian Wright, summarising for ITV, also said UEFA had to get tougher.

"It will probably go to UEFA and they (Montenegro) will be fined a pittance and we'll get the same thing again here the next time or somewhere else in Europe. It's not going to stop them."

Reliable Giroud strikes again as France thrash Iceland

Oliver Giroud

IMAGE: France's Olivier Giroud scores their second goal. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Olivier Giroud once again proved his reliability for France, netting his 35th international goal as the world champions demolished Iceland 4-0 at home on Monday in their second Euro 2020 qualifier.

Giroud, now alone in third place on France’s all-time scoring list, added to Samuel Umtiti’s early opener in the second half before Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann rounded off a routine win to put France on six points in Group H.

Turkey, who will face Les Bleus in June, emerged as France’s main rivals in the group when they thrashed Moldova 4-0 thanks to a Cenk Tosun double after beating Albania 2-0 away on Friday when France enjoyed a 4-1 victory in Moldova.

Albania have three points, like Iceland, after snatching a 3-0 away win against Andorra.

“We were very efficient against a very defensive-minded side. It’s a source of great satisfaction,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.

Iceland, who have now won only one of their last 17 games, played aggressively but it was not enough to unsettle Les Bleus.

“We knew it would be a tough challenge but their early goal made it even tougher,” said Iceland coach Erik Hamren. “Then when they scored the second we were really in trouble. They’re a top class team.”

Deschamps trusted the same 11 players who started against Moldova and his side made the perfect start with centre back Umtiti heading home Mbappe’s cross after 12 minutes.

Giroud’s powerful header, Mbappe’s low cross-shot and Benjamin Pavard’s long-range half-volley were all close before the interval but Iceland were still a threat.

France keeper Hugo Lloris saved from Birkir Bjarnasson four minutes after the break and that acted as a wake-up call.

Giroud, who now has one more international goal than David Trezeguet, put France in control when he diverted a Pavard cross into the net with his left knee in the 68th minute.

Only Thierry Henry (51) and Michel Platini (41) have scored more goals with Les Bleus than Giroud, who earned his 89th cap.

The Chelsea striker, who has never won over all the France fans, then had a close-range goal disallowed for offside.

France added a third when Mbappe beat goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson with a right-foot effort after being set up by Griezmann after 78 minutes for his 12th goal in 30 appearances.

Griezmann rubbed salt into Iceland’s wounds when he raced into the box to score with a low shot six minutes from time.

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