European qualification: Portugal tops, Spain well launched | European qualification
A point in the Republic of Ireland was needed for Portugal to reach the top of Group A on Thursday with an important victory for Spain, who overtook Sweden in the lead after their defeat in Georgia. Russia, Croatia and Northern Macedonia also scored crucial victories.
UEFA.com’s résumé is the most important part of what happened in the opening matches of Matchday 9.
Who is qualified?
A group: Azerbaijan 1-3 Luxembourg, Republic of Ireland 0-0 Portugal
Group B: Georgia 2-0 Sweden, Greece 0-1 Spain
Group H: Russia 6-0 Cyprus, Malta 1-7 Croatia, Slovakia 2-2 Slovenia
Group J: Armenia 0-5 Northern Macedonia, Germany 9-0 Liechtenstein, Romania 0-0 Iceland
Null puts Portugal at the top
Despite the 0-0 draw in the Republic of Ireland, Portugal took the lead in Group A in an equally punctual match with Serbia, before Sunday’s decisive clash between the two countries, in Lisbon, with just a draw to confirm the top position as a result of best goal difference at this time and because they drew 2-2 in Serbia in March. In Dublin, after a less successful first stage by Fernando Santos’s men, Cristiano Ronaldo came close to scoring at least three times in the second half. after Pepe was sent off for a double yellow card, towards the end, a situation that will prevent the oldest player ever representing Portugal from participating in the final match.
Spain with important triumph in Greece
Spain need only avoid defeat at Sunday’s home game against Sweden to finish top in Group B, after having sought to ground Greece’s aspirations to reach the top two of the group thanks to a great effort. penalty converted by Pablo Sarabia. It was Spain’s first penalty kick in World Cup qualifying since October 2009. The defeat condemns Greece to third place in the group, regardless of their home result against Kosovo on Sunday.
Russia rout keeps on top
Russia will secure a place in the FIFA World Cup finals if they don’t lose in Croatia on Sunday after taking a categorical victory at home to Cyprus. At half-time, just a goal by Aleksandr Erokhin separated the two teams, but then the Russian team scored three times in seven minutes through Fedor Smolov, Andrey Mostovoy and Aleksey Sutormin to secure a comfortable advantage before Anton Zabolotny and Erokhin close the count towards the end.
- Veteran Zlatan Ibrahimović started Sweden again at the age of 40, but both he and his team were surprised by Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s two goals in a historic Georgia victory that complicates the Swedes’ direct qualification from Group B.
- Northern Macedonia continue to struggle to reach the World Cup for the first time after a 5-0 rout in Armenia. Aleksandar Trajkovski opened for content and Enis Bardi scored the second goal before the break before signing a hat-trick with two penalties.
- Croatia and already qualified Germany managed to defeat Malta and Liechtenstein respectively. Lovro Majer scored two of Croatia’s seven goals at Ta ‘Qali, while Leroy Sané and Thomas Müller also doubled in the new goals scored by the Germans in Wolfsburg.
Group C: Italy – Switzerland, Northern Ireland – Lithuania
Group F: Austria – Israel, Denmark – Faroe Islands, Republic of Moldova – Scotland
Group I: Andorra – Poland, England – Albania, Hungary – San Marino
Group D: Bosnia and Herzegovina – Finland, France – Kazakhstan
Group G: Norway – Latvia, Turkey – Gibraltar, Montenegro – Netherlands
Group E: Belgium – Estonia, Wales – Belarus