UEFA World Cup Qualifiers have been unpredictable so far to say the least. Underdogs remain in the fight for playoff spots, while group favorites drop points unexpectedly.
Iceland bounced back from a 1-0 defeat in Finland on Saturday, to edge Ukraine 2-0 in Reykjavik. A brace from Gylfi Sigurdsson was all the hosts needed to remain within touching distance of the top spot in Group I. Sigurdsson’s opening goal came in the 47th-minute as his left-footed finish found the bottom left corner. The Everton man doubled his side’s lead after 66 minutes, scoring from another left footed strike. Ukraine had five shots on goal, but had to settle with their first loss since March.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Serbia used a free-kick winner to defeat Ireland away from home, while Wales defeated Moldova. Iceland used a pair of goals to defeat Ukraine, while Group I leaders Croatia suffered a shocking loss in Turkey.
Here’s a closer look at all of Tuesday’s UEFA World Cup Qualifiers:
10-men Serbia remained atop of Group D thanks to a 1-0 victory in Dublin against the Republic of Ireland. Following a scoreless first-half from the Aviva Stadium, Roma’s Aleksandar Kolarov found the breakthrough goal from inside of the box. The wingback’s left-footed shot found the top left corner after 55 minutes. Despite seeing Nikola Maksimovic sent off after the hour mark, the visitors held on for three points. Ireland recorded three shots on target, but are now winless in their last four qualifiers.
Wales made it two victories in the past four days, defeating Moldova 2-0 away from home. However, it was not easy for Chris Coleman’s side to find the breakthrough after being held in check for 75+ minutes. West Brom’s Hal Robson-Kanu headed home after 80 minutes for a 1-0 Welsh lead. Aaron Ramsey added the insurance goal in stoppage time, rifling home from long-range. Wales move up to second place, while Moldova remain winless.
Austria 1 – Georgia 1
Republic of Ireland 0 – Serbia 1
Moldova 0 – Wales 2
1. Serbia | 18 points | 5-0-3 | 17 goals scored | 7 goals allowed
2. Wales | 14 points | 3-0-5 | 12 goals scored | 5 goals allowed
3. Republic of Ireland | 13 points | 3-1-4| 9 goals scored | 6 goals allowed
4. Austria | 9 points | 2-3-3 | 10 goals scored |10 goals allowed
5. Georgia | 5 points | 0-3-5 | 8 goals scored | 12 goals allowed
6. Moldova | 2 points | 0-6-2 | 4 goals scored | 20 goals allowed
Italy bounced back from a heavy defeat in Spain on Saturday, by squeaking past Israel 1-0 in Group G action on Tuesday. The hosts used a 53rd-minute winner from Lazio striker Ciro Immobile to claim all three points. Following a scoreless first half from the Giglio Stadium, Immobile headed home Antonio Candreva’s cross to the top left corner for the deciding goal. Israel were held to two shots on target, while Italy had six. Israelian keeper Ariel Harosh made five saves and was the visitors best player, despite losing their fourth qualifiers in a row. Italy remain in second behind Spain.
Spain used braces from both Alvaro Morata and Iago Aspas during their 8-0 trouncing of Liechtenstein away from home. Sergio Ramos headed home Spain’s opener after three minutes before Morata headed home his first at the 15 minute mark. Isco extended the lead to 3-0 a minute later, as Morata was credited with the assist. David Silva had the goal of the match, scoring from a left-footed free kick after 39 minutes. Aspas finished from close range after 51 minutes, before the Celta Vigo man assisted on Morata’s second three minutes later. Aspas doubled his tally after 63 minutes from inside the box, before an own goal off of Maximilian Goppel capped the final score at 8-0. Liechtenstein had one shot on goal, while Peter Jehle made five saves in the loss.
Italy 1 – Israel 0
Macedonia 1 – Albania 1
Liechtenstein 0 – Spain 8
1. Spain | 22 points | 7-0-1 | 32 goals scored | 3 goals allowed
2. Italy | 19 points | 6-1-1 | 19 goals scored | 7 goals allowed
3. Albania | 13 points | 4-1-3| 10 goals scored | 9 goals allowed
4. Israel | 9 points | 3-5-0| 9 goals scored |14 goals allowed
5. Macedonia | 7 points | 2-5-1 | 10 goals scored | 14 goals allowed
6. Lichetenstein | 0 points | 0-8-0 | 1 goal scored | 34 goals allowed
Turkey has now made things interesting in Group I after their 1-0 home win over Croatia on Tuesday. Cenk Tosun’s 75th-minute finish was all the hosts needed to earn their fourth qualifying victory. Croatia was held to three shots on goal, eventually suffering their second defeat out of their last three matches. The win for Turkey now pulls them to with two points of second-place. Croatia holds an edge on Iceland for the top spot due to goal difference.
Iceland 2 – Ukraine 0
Turkey 1 – Croatia 0
Kosovo 0 – Finland 1
1. Croatia | 16 points | 5-2-1 | 12 goals scored | 3 goals allowed
2. Iceland | 16 points | 5-2-1 | 11 goals scored | 7 goals allowed
3. Turkey | 14 points | 4-2-2| 12 goals scored | 8 goals allowed
4. Ukraine | 14 points |4-2-2 | 11 goals scored | 7 goals allowed
5. Finland | 7 points | 2-5-1 | 6 goals scored | 10 goals allowed
6. Kosovo | 1 point | 0-7-1 | 3 goals scored | 20 goals allowed