WCQ: Germany stunned by North Macedonia, Maguire saves England
If you had Henrikh Mkhitaryan-less Armenia leading UEFA World Cup qualifying’s Group J after three matches, North Macedonia behind them, and Germany on the outside-looking-in.... please do give us a call for further prognostication.
Germany was stunned at home by North Macedonia, Armenia overcame a blown lead to Romania, and both England and France rallied to collect wins at home.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions looked set to cruise past Robert Lewandowski-less Poland after Harry Kane converted a penalty but John Stones then gave away a terrible goal to the visitors.
Fortunately for Stones, he helped set up Harry Maguire’s rocket winner.
England 2-1 Poland
The Three Lions were lucky to get their opening goal and gave away their equalizer, but winner was well-earned at Wembley Stadium.
Harry Kane cashed in a penalty that Raheem Sterling won under dubious circumstances, but John Stones gave a goal back to the visitors with a terrible pass in his own 18 to make it 1-1 just before the hour mark.
But the Man City defender made amends by rushing to the front post to turn a corner kick back into the fray, where Man United’s Harry Maguire hammered home a winner for Gareth Southgate’s unbeaten England.
Armenia 3-2 Romania
Playing without captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Armenia is a shocking 3-0 and atop Group J following a back-and-forth with 10-man Romania.
Eduard Spertsyan came off the bench to open the scoring for Armenia, but they were behind after Alexandru Cicaldau bagged a brace in 10 minutes to make it 2-1 with 18 minutes left on the clock.
George Puscas was shown a straight red card and that’s when Tigran Barseghyan took over, assisting a Varazdat Haroyan goal in the 86th minute before converting a penalty three minutes later.
Armenia with face upstart North Macedonia and Germany away in its next two qualifiers, which are not until September.
Romania joins Iceland and Liechtenstein as teams to fall to Joaquin Caparros’ “Collective.”
Germany 1-2 North Macedonia
Having done the hard part with a blowout of Iceland and 1-0 win in Romania, Joachim Loew’s Germans fell asleep twice at home.
Goran Pandev, North Macedonia’s all-time caps and goals leader, added to both of those totals with his 35th goal in his 115th cap, the tally arriving just before halftime to send a stung Germany into the locker room.
Ilkay Gundogan converted a penalty after the hour mark to seemingly put the match. back on track but 21-year-old Napoli midfielder Eljif Elmas scored in the 85th minute to send Germany out of the top two places in Group J.
Germany out-attempted North Macedonia 11-6 and had 69 percent of the ball, but that wasn’t enough to deliver a point.
Spain 3-1 Kosovo
Spain held a comfortable 2-0 lead after out-shooting Kosovo 14-0 in the first half and seeing goals from Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres.
So full credit to Athletic Bilbao keeper Unai Simon for injecting some life into the affair with a monumentally poor run out that allowed Besar Halimi to make it 2-1 with 20 minutes to play.
Gerard Moreno would serve as super sub a few minutes later to put the result back to bed, but this was... something:
San Marino 0-2 Albania
Andorra 0-3 Hungary
Scotland 4-0 Faroe Islands
Moldova 1-4 Israel
Austria 0-4 Denmark
Ukraine 1-1 Kazakhstan
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0-1 France
Lithuania 0-1 Italy
Northern Ireland 0-0 Bulgaria
Greece 1-1 Georgia
Liechtenstein 1-4 Iceland