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Euro 2020 qualifiers: Italy and Spain stay perfect, Eriksen shines for Denmark

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Christian Eriksen‘s future at Tottenham Hotspur may be in serious doubt, but his future with Denmark has never been more secure. The 27-year-old again proved vital for his country as he assisted the opener and scored a brace from the spot in a 6-0 storming of Gibraltar.

His assist came just six minutes into the match on a cross from deep down the right flank, sending it in for a finish off the head of Robert Skov. Eriksen then scored his first penalty past the half-hour mark to put Denmark 2-0 up on the road, and again stepped up to the spot for a second in the 50th minute. Thomas Delaney bagged Denmark’s fourth, Christian Gytkjaer added the fifth, and the Lech Poznan striker picked up his brace with 12 minutes to go.

Like Eriksen, Teemu Pukki remained white hot as Finland secured a massive 1-0 win at home over Greece, pushing them to second in Group J on 12 points. The goal, Pukki’s fourth of the qualifiers, came from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute after Dimitrios Kourbelis fouled Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara. The tally marks Pukki’s sixth goal in his last five matches for club and country, already on top of the Premier League goal chart with five.

Italy, meanwhile, moved to five wins through five matches atop Group J with a 3-1 win over Armenia. Andrea Belotti bagged a brace while Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini added the third in Yerevan. The victory came in comeback fashion as FC Sochi striker Alexander Karapetian opened the scoring 11 minutes in for the hosts on an impressive counter-attack, but he was sent off just before halftime for a second yellow card and Italy preserved its perfect record.

Sergio Ramos scored from the spot to help give Spain a slim 2-1 road victory over Romania. Spain put eight shots on frame in the first half to Romania’s one, but could only record the one penalty goal. A second would eventually be coming, and it did just two minutes after the break as Paco Alcacer finished off a wonderful team goal that featured an assist from Jordi Alba on a wonderful far-post run that caught the Romanian defense out of sorts and played Alcacer onside. On-loan Brighton striker Florin Andone pulled Romania one back with a half-hour to go but they couldn’t get past a bunkered-in Spain reduced to 10 men for the final 11 minutes after Real Sociedad defender Diego Llorente was sent off.

Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof was one of three goalscorers as Sweden hammered the Faroe Islands 4-0 on the road. All four goals came in the first half as the visitors coasted to build a three-point gap for a qualifying position behind Spain in Group F.

Newcastle defender Fabian Schar seemed to have given Switzerland a deserved 1-0 victory on the road at the Republic of Ireland, but a late 85th minute equalizer saw the scoreline level. The Magpies center-back marauded forward through the middle and contributed the finish to a wonderful bit of one-touch attacking with 15 minutes to go. Switzerland deserved to go in front despite the lack of Xherdan Shaqiri who made himself unavailable for selection as he fights for a place in the Liverpool squad. The home side would peg Switzerland back, however, as David McGoldrick delivered a header five minutes from time to share the spoils, moments after Glenn Whelan struck the bar.

Bosnia & Herzegovina poured it on late to top Lichtenstein 5-0. The hosts held 68% possession and popped off 28 shots to Lichtenstein’s eight, but could only muster an 11th minute effort from Amer Gojak for the majority of the match. It was 1-0 until the final 10 minutes when they poured four more on, with Edin Dzeko, Haris Duljevic, and Edin Visca all finding the back of the net plus a second for Gojak. The three points were vital as they pushed Bosnia & Herzegovina up to third in Group J, with a five point gap between them and second-placed Finland.

Norway topped Malta 2-0 at home as Bournemouth’s Josh King scored from the spot. 21-year-old Genk midfielder opened the scoring past the half-hour mark, and King delivered his penalty in first-half stoppage time as the home side cruised in Oslo. They jumped into third in Group F, but still sit two points back of Sweden.

Israel drew 1-1 with Macedonia at home, a disappointing result that sees their second-place spot in Group G suddenly in peril, with third-placed Austria and fourth-placed Slovenia now within striking distance as they both take the field tomorrow.

EURO qualifying: A pair of 3-3 draws, feat. 3 stoppage-time goals

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A roundup of all of Tuesday’s action in 2020 European Championship qualification…

[ MORE: Report: Solskjaer to be named new United boss this week ]

Italy 6-0 Liechtenstein

Italy thrashed Liechtenstein on the back of two penalty kicks converted by Fabio Quagliarella (35th and 45th minutes), along with individual tallies from Stefano Sensi (17th), Marco Veratti (32nd), Moise Kean (70′) and Leonardo Pavoletti (76th).

With two victories from two games, and a +8 goal difference now in tow, Italy sit perched high atop Group J. With two sides set to qualify from the six-team group, it’s just about impossible to conjure up a scenario in which the Azzurri don’t qualify with more than a couple qualifiers still remaining.

Malta 0-2 Spain

Alvaro Morata bagged a brace (31st and 73rd minutes) to help Spain to a comfortable, if slightly labored, victory over Malta. Spain enjoyed a healthy 80 percent of possession and out-shot Malta by a margin of 23-2 (7-1 on target).

The only side with six points from their first two games, Spain lead Group F by two points over Sweden.

Switzerland 3-3 Denmark

The game of the day.

Remo Freuler put Switzerland ahead after 19 minutes. It would stay that way until the final 25 minutes, when a massive explosion of goals saw the game quickly get out of hand, in the most unimaginable of ways.

Granti Xhaka made it 2-0 in the 66th, and Breel Embolo made it 3-0 in the 76th. That was it, the game was over, done and dusted, right? Wrong.

Mathias Jorgensen brought Denmark back to 3-1 in the 84th, followed by Christian Gytkjaer in the 88th for 3-1. Deep into stoppage time — as in, three minutes deep — Henrik Dalsgaard completed the comeback with a header to clean up a mad scramble of failed headed clearances inside the penalty area.

Norway 3-3 Sweden

While also a six-goal thriller with stoppage-time drama, Sweden’s comeback was only from 2-0 down.

Bjoern Maars Johnsen (41st) and Joshua King (59th) established the lead just before the hour mark, and everything was going exactly to play for Norway. That remained the case until the 70th minute, when scored Viktor Claesson from open play. Norway scored again in the 86th minute, only Havard Nordtveit put the ball into his own net, which drew the Swedes level.

Robin Quaison gave Sweden the lead in the 91st minute, surely sealing all three points in a memorable comeback, right? Wrong again. Ola Kamara’s 96th-minute equalizer meant a 3-3 draw that neither side would be happy with, nor particularly dissatisfied.

Elsewhere in EURO 2010 qualifying

Group D

Ireland 1-0 Georgia

Group F

Romania 4-1 Faroe Islands

Group J

Bosnia & Herzegovina 2-2 Greece
Armenia 0-2 Finland

Former Arsenal striker Bendtner drops appeal, will serve time

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) Former Denmark forward Niklas Bendtner will have to serve a 50-day jail sentence after dropping his appeal against an assault conviction.

Early this month, Bendtner was found guilty of beating and kicking a cab driver in the Danish capital on Sept. 9. The 30-year-old Dane admitted to hitting the man but said he had acted in self-defense after a quarrel over the fare.

[READ: What’s next for the USMNT?]

Bendtner was sentenced to 50 days in prison and fined 1,500 kroner ($230).

The State Prosecutor of Copenhagen wrote on Twitter that it also abandoned its appeal after Bendtner’s move, adding “the verdict is therefore final.”

It was not immediately clear when Bendtner would serve his time.

Bendtner, a former Arsenal and Juventus forward who now plays for Norwegian club Rosenborg, has not been selected for his national team in recent months because of his poor shape.

Netherlands wins, relegates Germany

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Ronald Koeman‘s Netherlands sent Germany into League B, and moved a draw away from the semifinals after taking care of the World Cup champions in the highlight of Friday’s UEFA Nations League matches.

[ WATCH: Salah scores stoppage time winner ]


Netherlands 2-0 France

Georginio Wijnaldum was in a prime position to slot in a rebound after Hugo Lloris made a save on Ryan Babel, and Memphis Depay converted a stoppage time panenka penalty as Netherlands’ win sent Germany into League B.

The Dutch are still alive for A1, and can make the semifinals with a win over Germany on Monday.

Wales 1-2 Denmark

An even match saw Denmark score off a counterattack, with Nicolai Jorgensen supplying the finish off put the Danes ahead of the hosts. Martin Brathwaite made it 2-0 in the 88th minute, with Gareth Bale‘s goal the only Welsh answer a minute later.

Denmark goes top of Group B4, and end Wales’ hopes of promotion to League A. It’s Denmark into the “top flight” next cycle, and the nation is guaranteed at least a playoff spot in qualification for EURO 2020.

Gibraltar 2-6 Armenia

Former Real Salt Lake attacker Yura Movsisyan scored four for captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s side.

Elsewhere
Cyprus 1-1 Bulgaria
Slovenia 1-1 Norway
Liechtenstein 0-2 Macedonia
Slovakia 4-1 Ukraine

Former Arsenal, Denmark forward Bendtner jailed 50 days for assault

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) Former Denmark forward Niklas Bendtner has been sentenced to 50 days in jail and fined 1,500 kroner ($230) after being found guilty of assault.

Bendtner was charged with beating and kicking a cab driver in Copenhagen on Sept. 9. The 30-year-old Dane admitted hitting the man but said he had acted in self-defense after a quarrel over the fare.

[READ: U.S. Under-20s kick off World Cup qualifying with big win]

Denmark’s TV2 channel says the Rosenborg forward immediately appealed Friday’s ruling.

The cab driver, whose jaw was broken, was acquitted of violence but fined 3,000 kroner ($460) for using his telephone while driving and not wearing his seatbelt.

Bendtner, a former Arsenal and Juventus forward, has not been selected for his national team in recent months because of his poor shape.