Monday 16 September 2019

Forrest on fire as hat-trick sends Scots into play-offs

Scotland's James Forrest celebrates with the matchball after scoring a hat-trick against Israel at Hampden Park. Photo: PA
Scotland's James Forrest celebrates with the matchball after scoring a hat-trick against Israel at Hampden Park. Photo: PA

Jamie Holland

James Forrest scored a stunning Nations League hat-trick as Scotland overcame Israel 3-2 at Hampden Park to book a place in the play-offs for the 2020 European Championship.

Needing victory to leapfrog the visitors to the top of Group C1, Scotland were stunned when former Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal curled home a shot from 30 yards in the ninth minute.

However, Forrest, who had scored his first two Scotland goals in the 4-0 win over Albania last Saturday, scored twice in the first half before grabbing a third in the 64th minute from close range with another assured finish.

Midfielder Eran Zahavi reduced the deficit with a fearsome drive in the 75th minute and, amid a nervy finish, only a great save from Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor denied the visitors a late equaliser.

Elsewhere, Wales suffered an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Albania as Ryan Giggs' first year in charge ended on a low note in Elbasan.

Shock

Albania are ranked 42 spots below 18th-placed Wales in the FIFA rankings, had scored only twice in their previous eight games and were fresh from losing 4-0 at home to Scotland in the Nations League.

Bekim Balaj's 59th-minute penalty condemned Wales to a shock defeat.

Not even the presence of Gareth Bale, sent on as a substitute on the hour mark, could prevent a fifth loss in nine games under Giggs.

The result tarnished what was a historic occasion for Chris Gunter, who became Wales' most-capped player - his 93rd appearance taking him past former goalkeeper Neville Southall.

But it was also a night when youth was given its head with Anderlecht defender James Lawrence and Swansea wide man Dan James making debuts, while exciting Manchester City teenager Rabbi Matondo arrived late on for his first cap.

Olivier Giroud converted a 52nd-minute penalty to give France a 1-0 friendly win against Uruguay in Paris.

But Les Bleus' win came at a price as Kylian Mbappe was forced out of the action with a shoulder injury, which leaves PSG sweating over his fitness their forthcoming Champions League date with Liverpool.

Meanwhile, N'Golo Kante is ready to hand Chelsea a significant boost by signing a new contract worth around £300,000 a week.

Kante has been earning around £150,000 a week since joining Chelsea from Leicester City for £30m in 2016. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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