Raheem Sterling did his best to put a spin on the racist abuse his England team received during a 5-1 defeat of Montenegro in EURO 2020 qualifying on Monday when he took to Twitter to post a monkey emoji and “silence the racists” of Podgorica.
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But he expounded on his thoughts to reporters after the match, saying that UEFA has to come down harder than ever on those who have the audacity to spew their hatred from the seats towards opposing fans.
Sterling says the only solution is empty stadiums: Punish the whole country for the actions of a few. From SkySports.com:
“You’ve got to make it harder – you’ve got to punish all the fans so they can’t come to the games, you’ve got to do something that’s really going to make them think twice. Because if their team can’t play with fans it’s going to be difficult for them and make them think twice about it.
“I can only, we can only, the FA can only do so much. We’ve got to leave this to the people in charge to make a proper stance on it. Just banning one or two people is not going to change anything, even to our fans I’d say the exact same thing.”
He’s right, though, isn’t he? Too many will condone the racism as something less heinous or even inoffensive, and others won’t speak up for fear of retribution.
But sadly it may take fans knowing their inaction will cost their team in atmosphere and advantage — and federations knowing their inaction will cost them money — in order to spur change.
England and France made sure their EURO 2020 qualifying stayed on script, completing 6-point starts to the campaign on Monday.
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Montenegro 1-5 England
Sloppy English defending allowed Legia Warsaw man Marko Vesovic to put Montenegro ahead at Podgorica City Stadium, but the Three Lions sound found their footing.
Michael Keane scored his first England goal before Ross Barkley redirected a Callum Hudson-Odoi strike eight minutes later to give Gareth Southgate‘s men a 2-1 lead at the break.
Barkley completed his brace when Montenegro keeper Stefan Savic pushed a clearance of a Raheem Sterling cross back toward the Chelsea man. Harry Kane and Sterling also scored for the Three Lions.
Unfortunately, Danny Rose and several of his black England teammates were targeted by racists.
France 2-0 Iceland
Samuel Umtiti was the surprise goal scorer, heading home a Kylian Mbappe cross as hosts France were only able to break down Iceland on one occasion until the 68th minute.
That’s when Olivier Giroud moved into third place all-time on the French goal scoring list, behind only Michel Platini and Thierry Henry. The Chelsea man was in position to score when goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldórsson made a mess of Benjamin Pavard’s cross.
Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann would also score in the win.
Giroud has six fewer goals than Platini, and is 16 behind Henry’s 51.
Portugal 1-1 Serbia — Ronaldo hurt
Kosovo 1-1 Bulgaria
Luxembourg 1-2 Ukraine
Andorra 0-3 Albania
Turkey 4-0 Moldova
Juventus supporters will be hoping their hero is keeping it safe rather than sorry.
Cristiano Ronaldo has left Portugal’s EURO 2020 qualifier with Serbia after sustaining an injury in the first half at the Estadio da Luz on Monday.
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The 34-year-old pulled up mid-run and asked to be taken out of the game around the half-hour mark, with Portugal trailing Serbia 1-0 on a Dusan Tadic penalty.
Ronaldo went 90 minutes against Ukraine last week in his first Portugal appearance since Uruguay eliminated the EURO 2016 champs from the 2018 World Cup.
Juve has a 15-point lead on Napoli with 10 matches to play in the Serie A season, and won’t begin its next UEFA Champions League round until April 10 at Ajax.
It wasn’t just Germany and the Netherlands staging a tight and entertaining match in EURO 2020 qualifying on Sunday.
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Hungary 2-1 Croatia
Ante Rebic’s early goal made a “business as usual” statement for the World Cup runners-up, but Hungary can be a handful against any opponents and rallied at home.
Hoffenheim striker Adam Szalai brought the hosts level at halftime, and Mate Patkai gave Hungary a deserved 2-1 win in Budapest.
Coming three days after a loss in Slovakia to start qualifying, it was an early almost-must-win for Marco Rossi’s men.
Israel 4-2 Austria
Marko Arnautovic‘s brace in defeat couldn’t have come with different vibes. His eighth minute marker gave the Austrians a leg up, his 75th minute goal meaning very little with the side having conceded four-straight in between.
China-based striker Eran Zahavi scored a hat trick for Israel, and RB Salzburg star Munas Dabbur scored the fourth goal to keep the hosts within sight of first place Poland.
Austria is winless through two qualifiers.
Wales 1-0 Slovakia
Cyprus 0-2 Belgium
San Marino 0-2 Scotland
Netherlands 2-3 Germany — RECAP, VIDEO
Northern Ireland 2-1 Belarus
Poland 2-0 Latvia
Slovenia 1-1 Macedonia
Kazakhstan 0-4 Russia