UEFA Nations League: Maguire red haunts England; Jota drives Portugal
England’s chances of a place in a second-straight UEFA Nations League semifinal round took a hit as Harry Maguire’s nightmare 2020 continued at Wembley Stadium.
That shouldn’t surprise, as there is little clarity as to who will advance from all but two groups in this edition of the UNL.
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Remember: The two top UEFA Nations League group winners who do not manage to finish in the top two of their World Cup qualifying group get a place in the UEFA World Cup qualifying playoff round.
Here’s what happened Wednesday ahead of November’s final two group stage match days.
England 0-1 Denmark
The Three Lions failed to build on its upset of world No. 1 Belgium, falling at home and behind the second-place Danes in Group A2.
England played 64 minutes down a man and would finish with nine when Reece James saw red for an argument in stoppage time.
The hosts’ seven points are two behind Belgium and level with Denmark, who has a better goal differential by one. England goes to Belgium and hosts Denmark to finish the group stage.
The Three Lions still had plenty of chances to find a point after Maguire collected his second yellow card and was sent off in the 31st minute, opening the door to Christian Eriksen’s goal from the spot.
England out-attempted Denmark 13-10 but got little out of its attackers even after Gareth Southgate removed Mason Mount and Marcus Rashford for Jadon Sancho and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Southgate opted against using Bukayo Saka, Trent Alexander-Arnold, James Ward-Prowse, Danny Ings, and Jack Grealish amongst his attackers. The Grealish snub alone will get the gossip mills buzzing.
Iceland 1-2 Belgium
The Kevin De Bruyne-less Red Devils had to work hard for their three points at Laugardalsvollur in Reykjavik.
Romelu Lukaku was the star of the show, opening the scoring before restoring Belgium’s lead from the spot in the 38th minute.
Birkir Mar Sævarsson of Valur Reykjavik scored Iceland’s lone goal with a 17th-minute marker, the Strakarnir okkar now formally set for relegation to League B.
Italy 1-1 Netherlands
Lorenzo Pellegrini’s opener gave the Italians a lead which would last just nine minutes before Donny van de Beek answered for Frank de Boer’s visitors.
Netherlands outshot Italy 14-7 but a five-save day from Gianluigi Donnarumma and strong showings from Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini helped earned a point for the Italians.
Italy is now a point back of Poland and one ahead of the Dutch before a Nov. 15 visit from the leaders and Nov. 18 visit to the last-placed Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Poland 3-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Giving Poland a man-advantage in the 14th minute is an extra poor idea given the form of Robert Lewandowski.
The reigning UEFA Champions League Player of the Year scored his record 62nd and 63rd Poland goals and assisted Karol Linetty in boosting the Eagles atop Group A1.
Portugal didn’t need self-isolating Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Sweden 3-0, with Liverpool’s Diogo Jota posting two goals and an assist to Man City’s Bernardo Silva to open the scoring.
They remain level with France on 10 points after Les Bleus got goals from Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, the latter assisted by Everton’s Lucas Digne, in getting a tough 2-1 win over Croatia.
Norway 1-0 Northern Ireland
Romania 0-1 Austria -- Austria, Norway tied atop Group B1
Scotland 1-0 Czech Republic
Slovakia 2-3 Israel -- Scotland seizes 4-point group lead
Russia 0-0 Hungary
Turkey 2-2 Serbia -- Hungary one point behind leaders Russia
Finland 1-0 Republic of Ireland
Bulgaria 0-1 Wales -- Wales one point clear of Finland
Estonia 1-1 Armenia
North Macedonia 1-1 Georgia -- All four nations alive
Greece 0-0 Kosovo
Moldova 0-4 Slovenia -- Slovenia moves 2 clear of Greece
Lithuania 0-0 Albania
Belarus 2-0 Kazakhstan -- Belarus 2 pts above Lithuania, Albania