Euro 2016 qualifier roundup: Montenegro-Russia match abandoned; Spain edges Ukraine
With Premier League teams taking the weekend off, international competition, notably Euro 2016 qualifiers, have taken center stage for anyone wanting to catch a game or two over the next couple of days.
The biggest headlines from Saturday centered around Harry Kane’s debut goal for England, which was scored almost immediately following his 72nd-minute substitution en route to a 4-0 defeat of Lithuania.
[RELATED: Euro 2016 weekend preview]
After Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was hit with a flare by fans and tensions had mounted to the point of brawl, the Montenegro-Russia fixture was stopped dead in its tracks and suspended.
Here are the results of Saturday’s action.
Spain 1-0 Ukraine: Spain is no longer the clear best international side in the world, and this slim win over Ukraine ultimately shows us, once again, that Vicente del Bosque’s side is very beatable. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas was forced into making multiple stops in the second half, and La Roja’s defense held on to seal the victory, putting them at second place in Group C’s table, three points ahead of their opponent. The lone goal of the match was netted by 22-year-old Juventus striker Alvaro Morata, one of the more dynamic up-and-coming Spaniards. It was Morata’s first start on his country’s first team.
Moldova 0-2 Sweden: If you were to pick a man on Sweden to convert his opportunities and lead his country to victory, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s name would surface right off the bat. And on the heels of the former Inter striker’s brace, the Swedes successfully battled Moldova to widen the gap between their second-place standing and Russia in third. One of his goals was strikingly odd, while the other was a penalty kick effort with five minutes left before stoppage time. The best chances Moldova could muster were a few initially promising counter-attacks, but Sweden had their opposition’s attack soundly under control for the game’s majority.
England 4-0 Lithuania: England flexed their muscles once again, awarded with their seventh-consecutive victory in a convincing game vs. Lithuania. Rooney begun the scoring with a header in the 6th minute in classic style, and seconds before the half, Danny Welbeck, who has enjoyed an exceptional Euro qualifying campaign so far, found the back of the net by heading in a deflected ball. Sterling added a third when England’s captain fed him with a cross, and Kane headed Sterling’s ball at the far post for the fourth tally of the contest. Roy Hodgson and Co. now have a six point advantage over Slovenia in Group E’s first place.
Switzerland 3-0 Estonia: Another game ended with a considerable range between both teams, as the star power of Xherdan Shaqiri, assisting every Swiss goal, was on full display. Estonia netminder Sergei Pareiko got a hand on Fabian Schar’s header in the 17th minute but couldn’t prevent it from counting as Switzerland’s first goal. Granit Xhaka struck a hard, low shot from outside the penalty area that created the 2-0 scoreline ten minutes later, and then in the 80th minute Haris Seferovic pounced on a loose ball in the box that the Blueshirts failed to clear away. Switzerland, sitting in Group E’s third place with nine points, is now tied with Slovenia.
Japan 2-0 Tunisia
Slovenia 6-0 San Marino
Slovakia 3-0 Luxembourg
Macedonia FYR 1-2 Belarus
Liechtenstein 0-5 Austria
Montenegro 0-0 Russia (suspended)