An 81st minute penalty from Daniele De Rossi deprived Spain of a historic victory in Italy, and maintained the hosts’ forever unbeaten streak in World Cup qualifying.
Sergio Ramos came together with Eder for the controversial penalty call, as Eder hit the deck easily when Ramos hastily charged for a deflected ball.
Sevilla striker Vitolo Perez scored a second half goal to give Spain the lead as it searched for its first win in Italy since 1971. The penalty call could make the difference between automatic qualification for the 2018 World Cup and a second-place playoff.
Only the first-place team in each group goes straight to Russia, and the second-place team draws another second-place team in a home-and-home playoff to determine who goes to the World Cup.
Spain was lively on Thursday, pressing high and inching its chances closer and closer to goal. Andres Iniesta was stopped by Buffon, and Spain was moving to the doorstep by the time Gigi Buffon’s snared Gerard Pique’s point-blank header in the 25th minute.
But it was a rare mistake from the longtime Italy goalkeeper that sprung Spain in front. Buffon came charging out to meet a through ball but whiffed on the clearance, allowing Vitolo to easily pass into the a yawning cage. 1-0.
That’s when De Rossi finished the PK chance for his 19th international goal, and from that point on it was all Italy. Ciro Immobile nearly scored twice in the next five minutes, as the game’s angst ratcheted up several notches as well.
Here’s the PK. Eder definitely embellishes, no doubt, but Ramos is there. Fair call?
Austria 2-2 Wales
Joe Allen‘s howitzer was undone by a pair of goals from Stoke City teammate Marko Arnautovic as Wales picked up a point from what should’ve been three thanks to a sloppy early second half. A Kevin Wimmer own goal off a James Chester header accounted for the other Welsh goal.
Ireland 1-0 Georgia
Seamus Coleman‘s 56th minute goal all the Irish need for three points at home.
Iceland 3-2 Finland
Robin Lod and Teemu Pukki scored to remind EURO heroes Iceland just how hard it is to make a major tournament, but Alfred Finnbogason used the 90th minute to show there’s still magic in Iceland’s bag before Ragnar Sigurdsson sent the Laugardalsvöllur into ecstasy with a stoppage time winner.
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Turkey 2-2 Ukraine
Hakan Calhanoglu’s 81st minute penalty saves a point for the hosts.
Kosovo 0-6 Croatia
Mario Mandzukic hit a first half hat trick as Croatia proved Albert Bunjaki’s fears quite prophetic.
Macedonia 1-2 Israel
Tomer Hemed and Tal Ben Haim help Israel to a 2-0 lead, and the Blue and Whites held on for the win.
Liechtenstein 0-2 Albania
Terek Grozny striker Bekim Balaj scored and the hosts shipped in an own goal in the two-goal loss.
Moldova 0-3 Serbia