Teams are beginning to separate themselves from the pack as the third round of group games continued on Monday.
[ RELATED: Saturday and Sunday’s Euro qualifying scores ]
Two Group A nations stayed spotless, while Wales, Italy and Norway had to work a lot harder than anticipated to secure their results. Meanwhile a few European powers squared off with each other.
How’d it all shake out? Read on…
Kazakhstan 2-4 Czech Republic
Perhaps their home soil loss to the USMNT was a bit of a wake-up call, as coach Pavel Vrba and the Czechs are now 3-0 in qualifying after building a three-goal lead on the road before cruising to a 4-2 win. Possession and shots were fairly even, but the hosts won’t take any solace from holding a single point through three matches.
Iceland 2-0 Netherlands
A brace from Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson helped the darlings of UEFA’s World Cup qualifying cycle stay perfect in group play to join the Czechs at 3-0. A strong Dutch side struggled to find danger in attack and now have just three points from three matches.
Latvia 1-1 Turkey
The Turks first match against lesser group competition was just as uninspiring as losses to the Czechs and Iceland. Turkey had the wealth of chances, but a 47th minute goal gave them an all-too-brief lead. Twenty-year-old Valērijs Šabala leveled things up 7 minutes later.
Wales 2-1 Cyprus
It was trickier than expected, but Wales remains on top of the group after a tight affair against the Cypriots. The Welsh held a two-goal lead after 23 minutes but Vincent Laban narrowed that lead in the 36th minute before a straight red card to Andy King escalated the drama in the 47th minute.
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-1 Belgium
Roma’s Radja Nanggolan’s 51st minute goal canceled out Edin Dzeko’s opener, as BNH’s international woes continued in a drab home tie that sees them low in the group. Belgium now has four points through two matches and can claim top dog status with a win next month against Wales.
Andorra 1-4 Israel
25-year-old Austria Wien striker Omer Damari netted thrice, not one a penalty, as Israel stayed perfect in group play. Andorra remains at the bottom of the group.
Croatia 6-0 Azerbaijan
Two goals in the 45th minute took a comfortable 2-0 first half lead and made it borderline insurmountable, as Croatia cruised to a win over Berti Vogts’ squad. The massive pulls Croatian over the Italians on goal differential, with a visit to Italy on tap for next month.
Malta 0-1 Italy
Southampton’s Graziano Pelle made his senior Italy debut at age 29, and it took him just 24 minutes to score a goal for his country.
Norway 2-1 Bulgaria
Hoffenheim attacker Tarik Elyounoussi put the hosts in front within 13 minutes of play, and Havard Nielsen broke a 1-1 deadlock with less than 20 minutes to play as Norway boosted its hopes with its second win of group play. Fifteen-year-old Martin Odegaard came on in the 64th minute for the Norwegians.