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International Rewind: Portugal falls to Albania; Costa Rica, Panama play to draw; and more

AlbaniaCelebratesGoal1-PortugalEuro2016Quals (AFP)

By RYAN TOLMICH

Despite the absence Cristiano Ronaldo, few predicted Portugal’s clash with Albania would prove to be much of a challenge. However, the Albanians turned out to be more than the Portuguese could handle.

Albania kicked off their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a 1-0 upset victory over Portugal on Sunday in Aveiro, Portugal.

The hosts dominated much of the first half, but it was Albania’s Bekim Balaj who produced the game’s lone score with a spectacular volley in the 56th minute. Finding himself on the receiving end of a Odise Roshi cross, the 23-year-old forward was able to drift back to and fire a right footed shot into the back of the net to give his side the 1-0 victory.

Here is a rundown of international friendly results from the weekend:

COSTA RICA ERASE TWO-GOAL DEFICIT TO EARN SPOT IN GOLD CUP

Down a pair of goals to Panama with just ten minute remaining, it appeared that Costa Rica’s Copa Centroamericana fate would be left in the hands of the other sides that occupy Group B.

However, Los Ticos rallied with a pair of late goals Sunday to earn a 2-2 draw in Dallas to claim first place in the group through their pair of games.

Panama opened the scoring through a pair of second-half goals scored by forwards Blas Perez and Roberto Nurse in the 51st and 71st minutes, respectively. Costa Rica pulled one back through Johan Vanegas in the 81st minute, paving the way for an 87th minute penalty kick from Celso Borges to tie the score at two.

The contest was far from finished following Borges’ spot kick, as Panama earned a late penalty kick with all three points up for grabs. However, Ticos goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton guessed correctly to stop the ensuing Gabriel Gomez shot, leaving the two sides locked at two as time expired.

With the draw, Costa Rica earn a place in the 2015 Gold Cup. Los Ticos conclude their group play with four points, three points above Panama, who will look to makeup a three-goal deficit when they take on Nicaragua Wednesday.

GUATEMALA TAKE LEAD IN GROUP A WITH VICTORY OVER BELIZE

With just a one game remaining for each side in Group A of the Copa Centroamericana, Guatemala have asserted themselves as the group’s dominant side.

Guatemala picked up a 2-1 victory over Belize Sunday in Dallas to pick up the team’s second win in as many Copa Centroamericana contests.

The scoring was opened in the 26th minute through Guatemala’s Carlos Ruiz before Marvin Avila doubled the Guatemala advantage six minuted into the second half. Belize’s Deon McCaulay pulled one back in the 80th minute, but Belize failed to find that second goal as Guatemala emerged with all three points.

With the victory, Guatemala claim first place in Group A with the maximum points through the opening two contests. Guatemala will look to add to that tally Wednesday in a clash with Honduras while Belize takes on El Salvador that same night.

MULLER, GERMANY OUTLAST SCOTLAND IN EURO QUALIFYING OPENER

Despite a valiant effort from Scotland, Germany’s Tomas Muller found a way to continue his goalscoring exploits.

The German forward netted a brace, leading his side to a 2-1 victory over a lively Scotland side Sunday at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.

Muller opened the scoring with a header in the 18th minute, as Germany cruised in a dominant first half. The visitors gave the reigning World Cup champions a scare in the second half via a 66th minute finish from Ikechi Anya.

However, Muller once again proved to be the hero, ending Scotland’s joy just four minutes after Anya’s equalized by netting the eventual winning goal.

ALL RESULTS

EURO QUALIFYING

Georgia 1 – 2 Republic of Ireland

Hungary 1 – 2 Northern Ireland

Denmark 2 – 1 Armenia

Germany 2 – 1 Scotland

Gibralter 0 – 7 Poland

Faroe Islands 1 – 3 Finland

Greece 0 – 1 Romania

Portugal 0 – 1 Albania

COPA CENTROAMERICANA

Costa Rica 2 – 2 Panama

Guatemala 2 – 1 Belize

Honduras 0 – 1 El Salvador

FRIENDLIES

Japan 0 – 2 Uruguay

South Korea 3 – 1 Venezuela

Kazakhstan 7 – 1 Kyrgyzstan

Brazil 1 – 0 Colombia

Palestine 7 – 3 Chinese Taipei

Vietnam 3 – 1 Hong Kong

Philippines 2 – 3 Myanmar

Singapore 2 – 1 Papua New Guinea

Bolivia 0 – 4 Ecuador

Chile 0 – 0 Mexico

Morocco 3 – 0 Libya

Paraguay 0 – 0 United Arab Emirates

Serbia 1 – 1 France

What did you think of these results? What is Portugal’s biggest concern? Who do you see as favorites in the Copa Centroamericana? Have any bold predictions for Euro 2018 qualifying?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Wow, even without Ronaldo, Portugal has no business losing to Albania at home. Their manager should resign and the players not go out in public for a couple of weeks. That is truly a shocking result.

    Reply
      • Albania’s not really that bad of a side, but yes, Portugal should be better than what they are…with or without CR7.

    • Portugal sucks, relatively speaking. Many been saying that for a long time now, with Ronaldo or not. Not a good team, lots of individuals

      Reply
      • “Less than the Sum of its Parts” has been the mantra of Portugal since I can remember. They just never have an identity… unless you count getting ambushed by supposedly lesser teams, blowing kisses during defeats, and beating England on penalties. . Their fans seem to really enjoy crying, also. They haven’t seem this worked up about sobbing since they lost 1-0 in another “How on Earth did they Lose that Game… AT HOME?!?” contest against Greece in the Euro 2004 Final.

        And then there’s Pepe. And then there isn’t. What a glorious fail…

  2. To any Scotsmen out there. One week ahead of the independence vote, was it an ominous sign that they did not play God Save the Queen during the national anthems but rather some very Celtic sounding tune instead?

    Reply
      • Twice by my count… but only once was because he actually wanted tor retire. The first was mre of a protest about the crappy choice the federation had made. This last time he was asked to come back as they haven’t even come close to finding his replacement

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