Denmark added the most perfect campaign during the World Cup qualifier 2022 and England also eased towards winning their group. Wins for Scotland, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine moved each other closer to at least one place in the playoffs next year with the final tournament in Qatar in sight. (More football news)
Cristiano Ronaldo did not even play in Saturday’s World Cup program but still set an international football record for men and extended another game against tournament hosts 2022.
In his European record 181st match for Portugal – breaking a tie with his former Real Madrid team-mate Sergio Ramos mark for Spain – Ronaldo scored his 112th goal to break his men’s world record. Here is a look at the action from six of the 10 European qualifying groups in action on Saturday.
Serbia ended up in the top spot with 1-0 in Luxembourg to go one point away from Portugal after playing one more game. Ireland won 3-0 in Azerbaijan, and in a five-nation group where the odd team plays against Qatar in a friendship, Portugal took their turn. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the first half of a 3-0 victory.
Sweden’s forward Alexander Isak made a challenger a top goal on Saturday in a 3-0 home victory over Kosovo. The Real Sociedad striker collected a pass on the left wing, put the ball through the legs of a challenger and then shot into the upper corner from 25 yards.
Sweden is one point behind the group leader Spain – also currently in the Nations League campaign – and can be top on Tuesday when Greece visits. Greece scored twice from the 90th minute on Saturday to win 2-0 against Georgia.
While Italy is hosting the Nations League final this week, Switzerland closed the gap to three points and beat Northern Ireland 2-0. The Irish came to Geneva hoping to put pressure on the Swiss but the game turned against them when defender Jamal Lewis was sent off in the 37th.
Switzerland can level with Italy on Tuesday by winning in Lithuania and needs a big win. The key game is on November 12 when Italy hosts Switzerland. A draw can even suit the Italians, whose goal difference is currently six better than the Swiss, who missed many points chances on Saturday.
In the group led by France, Ukraine took control of second place with a first victory, 2-1 in Finland, after five straight draws. Bosnia-Herzegovina was on its way to a first competitive win since November 2019, 2-0 in Kazakhstan.
Denmark has compiled perhaps the world’s best qualifying result as the group’s leader, while Scotland and Israel served the most dramatic match on Saturday. The Danes’ 4-0 victory in Moldova was a seventh win in a row without any goals conceded and 26 best European goals.
One day after making the Ballon d’Or nomination list, defender and captain Simon Kjaer’s goal from the penalty spot was one of four in the first 21 minutes. Denmark can seal its place in Qatar by defeating Austria on Tuesday in Copenhagen.
Scotland beat visiting Israel 3-2 in a tense match with control of second place in the group — and a playoff spot in March — at stake. Scotland trailed twice, had a penalty saved in the first half, equalized in the second half only after a long video review toppled a goal that was not previously allowed and then missed a clear chance in the 89th.
Four minutes into stoppage time, Scott McTominay of Manchester United bundled the ball over the goal line after a corner to delight a sold-out Hampden Park. Scotland play next Tuesday in the Faroe Islands, which lost 2-0 on Saturday to the visitors Austria.
England cruised to another route, 5-0 at Andorra, but are still just four points away from the surprise of second-place Albania. Five different players scored against the 156th ranked Andorrans: Ben Chilwell and Bukayo Saka in the first half and Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Grealish in the second.
The match was handled by a female team of match officials, led by Ukrainian referee Kateryna Monzul, a day after a fire injured one of the stands at the small Estadi Nacional.
Hungary was impressive at the European Championships in June but lost again at home, 1-0 against Albania, at an empty Puskas stadium in Budapest. It was a punishment for racist behavior by fans when England visited last month. Poland had an audience of more than 56,000 at the National Stadium in Warsaw to see a 5-0 victory over San Marino and travel to Albania on Tuesday.