Thursday 21 September 2017

Russia soar to top spot

Euro round-up

Alexander Kerzhakov's eighth-minute strike gave Russia a vital 1-0 victory in Macedonia last night to put them top of Group B.

Ilco Naumoski spurned a golden chance for the hosts to equalise when he missed a 73rd-minute penalty, and Dick Advocaat's men hung on to make it six points from six after Friday's victory over Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

Elsewhere in Ireland's group, Armenia scored three times in the first half to power to a 4-0 win over Andorra for the second victory of their campaign.

Gevorg Chazaryan, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Yura Movsisyan put the home side 3-0 up after 33 minutes and Marcos Pizzelli added a fourth shortly after the break.

Scotland suffered heartache in their Group I game with Spain. Gary Naismith and a Gerard Pique own-goal helped the Scots fight back from 2-0 down after David Villa and Andres Iniesta had the visitors in firm control.

But a Fernando Llorente strike 11 minutes from time silenced Hampden Park and Steven Whittaker's late red card rubbed salt into Scottish wounds.

In Group G, Wales' qualification hopes shipped another big blow when they went down 4-1 in Switzerland. Gareth Bale equalised after Valentin Stocker had put the Swiss ahead early on, but Marco Streller restored the hosts' lead midway through the first half.

Gokhan Inler's penalty made the result safe eight minutes from time, before Stocker added to Wales' misery.

In Group A, Guus Hiddink's Turkey suffered a shock 1-0 defeat in Azerbaijan as Germany maintained their early momentum with a 3-0 win in Kazakhstan. Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski all scored after the break for the Germans.

France laboured to a 2-0 home victory over Luxembourg in Group D, Karim Benzema and Yoann Gourcuff doing the damage.

Italy's Group C qualifier against Serbia in Genoa was abandoned after just six minutes due to crowd disturbances. The game was delayed for 35 minutes after a section of Serbian fans threw fire crackers onto the pitch.

Once order was restored, the game restarted but it was not long before referee Craig Thomson stopped play for good after a Serbian fan threw a flare onto the pitch, which narrowly missed Italy 'keeper Emiliano Viviano.

Irish Independent

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