Faroe Islands

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

EURO 2016 qualifying roundup: Faroe Islands upset Greece (again), plus a Ronaldo hat trick

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The sixth round of 2016 European Championship qualification continued on Saturday, as groups take shape and next summer’s field begins to become just a bit clearer.

Faroe Islands 2-1 Greece

Remember when Greece won EURO 2004? It seems like ages ago, but in reality it was just 11 short years ago. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. On Saturday, Greece fell to the Faroe Islands — again — a tiny archipelago nation with a population of roughly 50,000.

Hallur Hansson scored the game’s opening goal in the 32nd minute and Brandur Olsen doubled the lead in the 70th minute, before Sokratis pulled back a mere consolation goal for the Greeks in the 85th minute.

Greece currently sit bottom of Group F with just two points from six games, a total that almost certainly means there’s little or no chance of qualifying for next summer’s EURO tournament. Faroe Islands have six point and sit in fourth, five points behind Hungary for third.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Copa America coverage | WWC | U-20 WC ]

Armenia 2-3 Portugal

A hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal to a comeback over Armenia, but they sweated it out late. The hosts snatched a shock 14th minute lead when Marcos Pizzelli ripped home a free kick past Rui Patricio. Ronaldo leveled with his first 12 minutes later on a penalty as the game went into halftime 1-1. A mistake at the back led to his second, as neither goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky or defender Robert Arzumanyan dealt with a ball in the box, and the Real Madrid star picked their pocket for a second. But his third was the best, an absolute stunner from 25 yards out that roared into the top corner.

Portugal midfielder Tiago found himself with an early shower for a deserved second yellow after the hour mark, and it let Armenia back in. They pulled one back when Hrayr Mkoyan put home a shot from distance that Patricio fumbled. Armenia pummeled forward the rest of the way, but couldn’t find the last one. Portugal exhaled and earned the three points, keeping their two-point lead in the five-team Group I.

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Scotland

A huge Group D matchup with two teams trying to keep pace with Poland and Germany at the top, the hosts took the lead just before halftime through Stoke City midfielder Jonathan Walters, but Scotland pulled level just a minute after halftime as Chicago Fire designated player Shaun Maloney deflected an effort from the top of the box off John O’Shea and into the back of the net.

The second half proved entertaining, but neither side was able to break the deadlock, and each side earned a point. The draw favors Scotland, who remain in a potential qualifying position three points back of Poland and two behind Germany. Meanwhile, Ireland fails to make a move into the top half of the group, sitting in fourth just two points back of Ireland.

[ MORE: Worry starts to build for France as EURO 2016 hosts lose again ]

Gibraltar 0-7 Germany

Andre Schurrle netted a hat trick, while Max Kruse scored twice, and Ilkay Gundogan and Karim Bellarabi added one a piece for the defending world champions, who take over second place in Group D, a single point off the pace of leaders Poland.

Poland 4-0 Georgia

The Polish squad maintained its lead over Group D by breezing by Georgia. It took an hour to get going but Arkadiusz Milik finished off a fantastic big of passing in the 61st minute with a curling shot from distance. Then, as Poland pushed to put the game away, and they did more than that. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski burst open the game as time ran down with a hat-trick in under four minutes to roar across the finish line. The win keeps Poland at the top of Group D with 14 points.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying

Finland 0-1 Hungary
Denmark 2-0 Serbia
Northern Ireland 0-0 Romania

Friday’s Euro qualifying roundup: Ronaldo sets all-time goals record; Faroe Islands pull off upset of the year

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Friday was a day of records for one man, and a day of monumental achievement for one tiny island nation in 2016 UEFA European Championships qualifying action.

Since Cristiano Ronaldo breaks a record, seemingly, every other game these days, we’ll start the roundup of Friday’s news with the Faroe Islands. The who? The Faroe Islands, a country of less than 50,000 population, and the latest David vs. Goliath slayers.

On Friday, Landsliðið (“The Team”) knocked off 2004 winners Greece, in Athens, in front of 7,700 spectators. The 1-0 scoreline was enough to give the islanders their fifth ever competitive victory. Joan Edmundsson, scorer of the 61st minute goal, will never have to buy another drink in his home country again.

[ RELATED: Altidore, Beckerman take top marks in USMNT player ratings after 2-1 loss ]

Elsewhere…

Oh yeah, that Ronaldo fellow. The Portuguese superstar scored the only goal of the game in his country’s 1-0 victory over Armenia. Nothing new there, he plays superhero essentially every game for Portugal.

What was most noteworthy, though, was that with his 23rd goal in European Championships play, Ronaldo passed Danish great Jon Dahl Tomasson to become the all-time leading goalscorer in European Championships history, which includes both qualifying and tournament games. Portugal currently sit second in Group I, one point behind leaders Denmark, with a game in-hand.

[ RELATED: Second half collapses continue to plague USMNT under Klinsmann ]

World Cup winners Germany continued its recovery from a post-World Cup hangover to thump minnows Gibraltar, 4-0. Thomas Mueller (two) and Mario Gotze scored the first three before Gibraltar defender Yogan Santos turned home the fourth into his own goal.

The goal of the day came from Scotland‘s 1-0 home defeat of Ireland when the Scots worked a well-designed short corner kick routine for Shaun Maloney (below video) to have a crack from 15 yards. With the win, Scotland pulled themselves into a three-way tie (Ireland and Germany) for second place in Group D.


Other scores

Serbia 1-3 Denmark
Georgia 0-4 Poland

Hungary 1-0 Finland
Romania 2-0 N. Ireland

Complete Euro 2016 Qualifying Preview: Road to France kicks off Sunday

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The endless international cycle is wonderful for viewers and exhausting for players, and European sides get right back to work with Euro 2016 qualifying beginning on Sunday.

Germany, of course, will be favorites to coast through qualifying after this summer’s World Cup title, but there are plenty of questions in what will become an expanded Euro field.

[ MORE: Sturridge to miss England opener ]

– Can England do much of anything after bouncing out of the World Cup in the group stages?

– Is France ready to reclaim its place as an elite force in European play?

– Was Spain’s horrible World Cup just a bump in the road?

– Can a number of ‘under-the-radar’ sides announce their arrival as major forces?

Two nations from each group and the highest-ranked third-place team automatically advance to the tournament in France, while the remaining eight third-place teams will duke it out in a playoff tie.

Oh, international football, how we love you!

Group A
source: APTeams: Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan
The favorites: Netherlands, Czech Republic
First up: Tuesday — Netherlands at Czech Republic, Turkey at Iceland, Latvia at Kazakhstan

Prognosis: Would be a shock if the Dutch don’t progress, while Iceland, Turkey and the Czechs will be favored to duke it out for the second and third place spots. Ultimately, we’ll peg Turkey to finish second with the Czechs to snare third (although Iceland taught us a lot about resilience in nearly qualifying for the World Cup)

Group B
Teams: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra
The favorites: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium
First up: Tuesday — Wales at Andorra, Cyprus at BNH

Prognosis: Hard to imagine the first two spots aren’t settled with Belgium followed by Bosnia-Herzegovina, but perhaps Gareth Bale can inject Wales into the discussion. Israel, Cyprus or Andorra finishing anything other than 4th through 6th would be quite the surprise.

 

Group C
Teams: Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia, Luxembourg
The favorites: Spain, Ukraine
First up: Monday — Macedonia at Spain, Slovakia at Ukraine, Belarus at Luxembourg

Prognosis: It’s a little interesting after Spain’s fall-off this summer, but surely the death of tiki-taka has been greatly exaggerated. Could Ukraine or Slovakia pull off a surprise dash to the top of the group? It’s possible, but more likely that they’ll be working for second while Belarus hopes the group sleeps on its BATE Borisov-heavy roster.

Group D
source: APTeams: Germany, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar
The favorites: Germany, Poland
First up: Sunday — Scotland at Germany, Poland at Gibraltar, Ireland at Georgia

Prognosis: Between Bayern Munich stars on Poland (Robert Lewandowski) and Germany (seemingly everyone else), the first two spots can be settled if Germany avoids a historically-bad hangover and Poland gets past its World Cup qualifying ghosts. It doesn’t get much better than Scotland and Ireland in the same group, though, and surely they’ll try to put a charge into Poland… and each other.

 

Group E
Teams: England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino
The favorites: Switzerland, England
First up: Monday — England at Switzerland, Lithuania at San Marino, Slovenia at Estonia
Prognosis: England can cast aside plenty of demons by picking up three points in its opener against the Swiss, though one gets the feeling Roy Hodgson would take a single point with glee. Slovenia is the class of the remaining four teams and has proven it can scare the Three Lions, but surely England will be a Top Two side, right? Right?

 

Group F
Teams: Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands
The favorites: Greece, Hungary
First up: Sunday — Finland at Faroe Islands, Romania at Greece, Northern Ireland

Prognosis: While the Greeks will be favored to put the rest of the group into a slumber to win the way Downtown Abbey must clinch its many awards, this group could see just about anything happen. I like Hungary and Finland, while Vlad Chiriches and Romania did get to the World Cup qualifying playoff before falling to Greece (who actually scored thrice in the match). All bets are off.

 

Group G
source: Getty ImagesTeams: Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein
The favorites: Sweden, Russia
First up: Monday — Sweden at Austria, Moldova at Montenegro, Liechtenstein at Russia

Prognosis: Surely Zlatan will be charged up to lead Sweden to the top of the group after the nation’s World Cup qualifying failure, while Russia will be keen to erase its summer failings. Austria should have David Alaba and Andreas Weimann in the fold in an effort to hold off the other three — and make a charge at a Top Two spot — while Stevan Jovetic and Montenegro beg to differ.

 

Group H
Teams: Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta
The favorites: Italy, Croatia
First up: Tuesday — Bulgaria at Azerbaijan, Malta at Croatia, Italy at Norway

Prognosis: It’s a battle for third, if we’re honest, and even that fight should fit neatly into Norway’s favor. US, or at least Jurgen Klinsmann, fans will be hoping that special advisor Berti Vogts can help the Milli or Azerbaijan into shockingly-good form.

Group I
Teams: Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania
The favorites: Portugal, Serbia
First up: Sunday — Portugal at Albania, Denmark at Armenia

Prognosis: This group is tricky tough, with Armenia and Albania each finding their way into the Top 40 since 2013. It’s very possible that the top-ranked third place team deserves to come from this group, but they are going to take a lot of points off each other.

source: APFinal prognosis:

Group winners: Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Sweden, Italy, Serbia

Second place: Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine, Poland, England, Russia, Croatia, Portugal

Highest-ranked third place: Austria

Playoff qualifiers: Czech Republic, Wales, Slovakia, Ireland, Slovenia, Finland, Norway, Denmark

European qualifying roundup: Two qualify, while four groups remain tight

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The first two European teams clinched their places in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by virtue of their victories on Tuesday. While Italy and the Czech Republic celebrate, the day’s results left four groups in which the top two spots are separated by four or less points, while two of those groups have ties at the top.

Russia 3-1 Israel

Russia retook control of Group F in an easy victory. Eran Zahavi scored a consolation goal in the 90th minute for Israel, but Russia scored three goals in the second half after a scoreless opening stanza to take the game.

Armenia 0-1 Denmark

Denmark still has a chance to catch Bulgaria and battle for a playoff spot in Group B. Daniel Agger scored the only goal of this game on a 73rd-minute penalty, which also saw Varazdat Haroyan sent off for Armenia.

Kazakhstan 0-1 Sweden

After falling to third place in Group C, Sweden regained its playoff positioning with a narrow victory in Kazakhstan. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 27 seconds into the game on what is the quickest goal the Swedish team has ever scored.

Norway 0-2 Switzerland

The Swiss needed a result away from home to stave off advances from Iceland and Slovenia at the top of Group E. All three of the top teams in the group won today, but Switzerland still has a five-point lead on Iceland and a six-point lead on Slovenia.

Romania 0-2 Turkey

Turkey’s win in Bucharest not only put the away team ahead of Romania in the Group D standings on goal difference, but it also assured that the Netherlands qualified for Brazil on Tuesday. The next three spots are separated by just one point, as Hungary also defeated Estonia.

Slovakia 1-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina

An away win in Slovakia keeps Bosnia-Herzegovina in first place in Group G, thanks to its plus-15 goal difference. Slovakia can help its opponent in the next match, against the other top team in the group, Greece.

Cyprus 0-2 Slovenia

The tight pack in Group E continues to be the closest race, with all but one team in the group still in the hunt for a qualification spot. Unfortunately for Cyprus, its 2-0 home loss to Slovenia only reaffirmed that it is the odd team out, while first through fifth places are separated by just eight points — and second through fifth have just three points between them.

Andorra 0-2 Netherlands

Robin van Persie’s second-half double sent the Netherlands into the World Cup.

Hungary 5-1 Estonia

After a humiliating 3-0 loss in Romania on Friday, Hungary turned the tables in a 5-1 home win over Estonia. Hungary now sits in second place in Group D by one point over Romania and Turkey.

Italy 2-1 Czech Republic

Italy overcame an early deficit to clinch qualification with a 2-1 win in Turin. Mario Balotelli scored the winning goal on a penalty, extending his perfect record from the spot in competitive matches.

Austria 1-0 Ireland

Austria extended its hopes of earning a playoff spot with a crucial 1-0 win over Ireland. The next match, against current second-placed team Sweden, could be decisive in Group C.

Faroe Islands 0-3 Germany

Germany rolled over last-placed Faroe Islands and remained well on top of Group C. Per Mertesacker, Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller provided the German goals.

Ukraine 0-0 England

A scoreless tie was enough for England to maintain its one-point lead on top of Group H in a hostile environment in Kiev. With its final two games at home, against lowly Montenegro and Poland, England will be confident of its chances to clinch a spot in Brazil.

Greece 1-0 Latvia

With a narrow win over Latvia, delivered by a Dimitris Salpingidis goal in the 58th minute, Greece stayed tied atop Group G with Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, the Greeks trail by a large margin in goal difference, making its final two games against Slovakia and Liechtenstein ones that it must try to win by large margins to assure automatic qualification.

Iceland 2-1 Albania

Iceland moved into second place, a position it holds by one point over Slovenia, with a 2-1 win against Albania in freezing Reykjavík. Albania struck first, in the ninth minute through Valdet Rama, but Birkir Bjarnason responded in the 14th, and Kolbeinn Sigþórsson secured the win in the 47th minute.

Belarus 2-4 France

France tied Spain on top of Group I with a 4-2 win in Belarus, but Spain has a game in hand, as it played a friendly against Chile. At least a playoff spot seems safe, as third-place Finland trails by five points; the two teams meet in the last qualifier of the group stage on Oct. 15.

Other results: Lithuania 2-0 Liechtenstein, Georgia 0-1 Finland, Malta 1-2 Bulgaria, Luxembourg 3-2 Northern Ireland, Macedonia 1-2 Scotland, Wales 0-3 Serbia, San Marino 1-5 Poland