WC Qualifying: Germany stunned by North Macedonia

North Macedonia scored an 85th-minute winner through Eljif Elmas to stun Germany 2-1 in their World Cup Qualifier on Wednesday, celebrating their greatest international victory.

Elmas slotted in after the four-time world champions had controlled the game but struggled to create chances against the disciplined North Macedonians, ranked 65th in the world.

It was Germany’s first home World Cup Qualifying loss in 20 years, since being beaten 5-1 by England, and coach Joachim Lowe’s last qualifying game in charge ahead of his departure following this summer’s European Championship.

Despite Germany’s 70 per cent possession in the first half and Leon Goretzka’s shot onto the crossbar, it was the visitors who scored when 37-year-old Goran Pandev was left unmarked in the box to tap home in first-half stoppage time.

A 63rd-minute Ilkay Gundogan penalty drew the hosts level but despite late pressure and a golden chance for Timo Werner 10 minutes from time, Germany could not find a winner.

North Macedonia celebrate after their winning goal against Germany
North Macedonia celebrate after their winning goal against Germany

Instead, it was Elmas who scored to lift North Macedonia to six points, level with Germany in Group J and three behind leaders Armenia.

Elsewhere, after trailing 2-1 in the 87th minute, Armenia scored twice to beat 10-man Romania 3-2 for their third straight win in World Cup Qualifying. Iceland also beat Liechtenstein 4-1 to end a seven-game losing run.

Spain see off Kosovo

Action from Spain vs Kosovo
Spain saw off Kosovo in Group B

Spain pulled off a convincing 3-1 win at home to Kosovo, although goalkeeper Unai Simon had a night to forget, committing a tremendous blunder far from his area to cost his side a goal.

Dani Olmo gave Spain a deserved lead in the 34th minute with a delicate chip to add to his stoppage-time winner against Georgia in their previous outing, while Ferran Torres fired in the second goal two minutes later.

Spain looked in total control as they dominated possession and played with purpose but they allowed Kosovo back into the game in the 70th minute when Simon lost the ball after rushing out of his box and Besar Halimi ruthlessly pounced and scored from a distance.

The home side promptly restored their two-goal cushion five minutes later though thanks to a header from Gerard Moreno and saw out the win to move top of Group B with seven points after three games.

Sweden are second with six points and a game in hand while Greece, who drew 1-1 with Georgia in the other group match on Wednesday, stayed in third place with two points, one ahead of Georgia.

France edge past Bosnia

Bosnia v France


Highlights of Bosnia v France from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D.

Antoine Griezmann struck again as France extended their World Cup Qualifying Group D lead to four points with an unconvincing 1-0 away win against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Griezmann, who scored in last Wednesday’s opening game against Ukraine, put the world champions on seven points from three games.

Ukraine, who were held to a 1-1 home draw by Kazakhstan, have three points with Finland on two points from two matches. Bosnia, who have not won in their last 11 outings, lie fourth with one point.

France will resume their World Cup qualifying campaign at home against Bosnia on September 1, after the European Championships.

Italy stay perfect

lithuania v italy highlights


Highlights of Lithuania v Italy from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C.

Goals from Stefano Sensi and Ciro Immobile earned Italy a 2-0 victory over Lithuania as Roberto Mancini’s side made it three wins from three games in Group C.

Mancini made 10 changes to the side who beat Bulgaria 2-0 on Sunday and it showed as the visitors struggled to break down Lithuania on their artificial pitch in the opening period.

After the break, however, Italy stepped up a gear, with half-time substitute Sensi firing the opener two minutes into the second half, before Immobile converted a stoppage-time penalty to make sure of the three points.

Another comfortable victory sees Italy remain top of their group on nine points after a sixth win in a row, with the Azzurri not conceding a single goal in that run

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Highlights of Northern Ireland v Bulgaria from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

Ian Baraclough is still searching for his first win as Northern Ireland manager after a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Bulgaria on the night Steven Davis earned his record-breaking 126th cap for his country.

The Belfast encounter had been described as ‘must win’ but the hosts could so easily have lost were it not for the heroics of Bailey Peacock-Farrell in stoppage time as he kept out Dimitar Iliev’s point-blank header.

Northern Ireland came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Stuart Dallas’ header struck the crossbar while Daniel Naumov kept out Gavin Whyte’s volley in the second period.

The result leaves Baraclough’s men in third position in World Cup European Qualifying Group C with one point from their opening two games while Bulgaria sit fourth.

England beat Poland

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Highlights of England vs Poland from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

Harry Maguire blasted home late on for England to spare the blushes of his defensive partner John Stones in a 2-1 World Cup Qualifier win over Poland at Wembley.

Stones had been caught in possession to gift Poland an unlikely equaliser through Jakub Moder on 58 minutes, after Harry Kane’s first-half penalty (19) had put England in control.

It was an all-too-familiar error from Stones and looked like being a costly one against an otherwise toothless Poland side, who were badly missing injured Robert Lewandowski.

However, the Manchester City defender was bailed out by his fellow centre-back Maguire, when the Manchester United man thumped in Stones’ knockdown from a corner with five minutes to play.

Hungary remain two points behind Group I leaders England in second place after winning 4-1 at Andorra in the pursuit of the only automatic qualification place. Albania went above Poland into third place by beating San Marino 2-0.

Big wins for Scotland, Denmark

John McGinn scored twice as Scotland beat the Faroe Islands 4-0 to get their first World Cup qualifying victory on the board.

McGinn applied the finishing touch to a flowing seventh-minute attack to give Scotland an early lead at Hampden Park, and the Aston Villa midfielder headed in his 10th international goal early in the second half to put the Scots in control.

Che Adams rifled in his international goal on the hour mark with Scotland’s third, before Ryan Fraser completed the rout with a far post header from Andy Robertson’s exquisite cross – his third goal in three successive internationals.

Scotland move up to second in Group F, four points behind leaders Denmark, with victory in their last competitive outing before Euro 2020, which looms promisingly on the horizon.

Denmark were convincing winners against Austria
Denmark were convincing winners against Austria

Substitute Andreas Skov Olsen scored twice in a scintillating second half as Denmark made it three World Cup qualifying wins out of three with a 4-0 demolition of Austria.

Denmark, who crushed Moldova 8-0 on Sunday, top the standings on nine points with 12 goals scored and none conceded. Scotland are second on five points, one ahead of Israel and Austria.

After a tight first half in which Joakim Maehle went closest to breaking the deadlock for the Danes, the game opened up and the introduction of Skov Olsen for Yussuf Poulsen in the 55th minute proved pivotal.

Three minutes after that switch, midfielder Thomas Delaney got free down the left and played a brilliant angled pass that left Olsen the simple task of smashing it into the net.

Maehle made it two five minutes later before Martin Braithwaite kept his cool in a race against keeper Alexander Schlager, jumping over the ball before squaring it for Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg to score Denmark’s third.

Olsen rounded out the scoring with his second, latching on to a long ball and twisting inside and then out before firing a left-foot rocket past Schlager in the 74th minute.

There were also four goals in the third game of Group F as Israel beat Moldova 4-1.


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