After another round of international games for the 2016 European Championship Qualifiers, we take a look back at the results, and the consequential changes in the groups.
Kazakhstan were thoroughly beaten at home by Iceland, losing 0-3. Iceland jumped to second and closed the gap on group leaders Czech Republic as they were held to a disappointing 1-1 home draw with Latvia. It was Latvia’s third point out of five Euro Qualifiers. Holland missed a huge opportunity to close the gap on the Czech Republic as a late Sneijder goal salvaged a disappointing 1-1 home draw against Turkey.
Wales maintained their unbeaten status in Group B as they claimed an impressive 0-3 victory over Israel in Tel Aviv. However, Israel sit two points of the group leaders with a game in hand. An Aaron Ramsey goal put the Welsh ahead, and two second half Gareth Bale goals came either side of a red card for Israel’s Tibi. Bosnia-Herzegovina claimed their first win of the qualifying campaign as they beat the group’s bottom side Andorra 0-3. Belgium are now only three points off the top of the group with a game in hand over leaders Wales as they comfortably saw off Cyprus 5-0.
Macedonia suffered a disappointing 1-2 loss to Belarus in a game which saw an incredible 10 yellow cards. Belarus switched fifth place for fourth with the home side, but still only have four points. Slovenia continued their 100% record in Group C as they swept aside Luxembourg 3-0, the minnows propping up the group. Second place Spain kept up the pressure on Slovakia, a single strike from Morata proving enough to beat Ukraine. Spain however, are still three points off the group leaders with 12 points.
Stephen Fletcher scored Scotland’s first hattrick since 1969 as they emphatically beat Gibraltar 6-1 at Hampden Park. As well as the Fletcher hattrick, Shaun Maloney scored two penalties and Steven Naismith also grabbed a goal, and even Gibraltar scored their first ever competitive goal. The win kept the Scots firmly in the chase for automatic qualification, behind Germany by goal difference alone. The Germans however also kept up their chase, beating Georgia 0-2 after Reus and Muller scored within five minutes of each other. In the group’s other game, a 94th minute Shane Long goal secured an impressive 1-1 home draw for the Republic of Ireland against group leaders Poland, who are now only one point clear at the top.
England confidently cruised past Lithuania, winning 4-0 at Wembley. As well as an early Wayne Rooney strike, Danny Welbeck scored his sixth goal in five qualifiers, Raheem Sterling scored his first England goal, and Harry Kane scored after just 80 seconds. England have won their last seven internationals, have maintained their 100% record and have a six point lead over their nearest rivals Slovenia. They beat minnows San Marino 6-0. In the group’s other game, Switzerland had no issues overcoming Estonia 3-0.
A Kyle Lafferty brace secured a 2-1 win for Northern Ireland against Finland. This kept Michael O’Neill’s side just one point off group leaders Romania. They secured a narrow 1-0 win over the Faroe Islands. In the group’s other game, Hungary drew 0-0 with Greece. This left them five points off Romania, the draw putting a huge dent in their automatic qualification hopes.
Leaders Austria had no problems maintaining their four point lead at the top of the group, dispatching with Liechtenstein 0-5. Second place Sweden, who have nine points, managed to keep up their small amount of pressure on Austria as they beat Moldova 0-2, an Ibrahimovic double managing to seal the win despite a late red card for defender Granqvist. The other game in Group G was abandoned in bizarre circumstances. Just one minute into the game, Russian goalkeeper Akinfeev was struck by a flare from the stands. However, the game carried on despite a 30 minute delay. But, in the second half, a mass brawl involving players and staff caused the German referee to abandon the game.
Azerbaijan claimed their first win of the qualifying campaign as they beat Malta 2-1. Group leaders Croatia also returned to winning ways, beating Norway 5-1. This win was despite defender Corluka receiving two yellow cards in four minutes. Italy missed a huge chance to go level on points with leaders Croatia, as they could only draw in Bulgaria, a late Eder goal ensuring a 2-2 draw.
Group leaders Portugal kept top of the group after a 2-1 win over Serbia, despite a marvellous overhead kick goal from Serbia’s Matic. Second place Denmark didn’t play, so Albania took their chance to draw level on points with a 2-1 win over Armenia. After going 0-1 down, a red card for Albania’s Hambardzumyan with twenty minutes left prompted two goals in four minutes from the home team to snatch all three points and go third on goal difference.