Finland

Associated Press

UEFA Nations League: Dzeko scores, Finland wins again

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England’s 3-1 win over Spain was the biggest news of the day in UEFA Nations League play, but there was plenty else to take from the action on Monday.

Edin Dzeko bagged a double as Bosnia & Herzegovina defeated Northern Ireland 2-0. The Roma striker robbed Jamal Lewis of the ball in his own defensive third after the defender slipped, and he buried the chance before the defense could regroup. He picked up his second with 17 minutes remaining as Miralem Pjanic completely bypassed the midfield with a fantastic long chip to Dzeko waiting on the left side of the box, and he had an easy finish with the defense trailing the play.

Dzeko’s two goals were two of just five total shots on target between the two sides in an otherwise drab match, as Northern Ireland has just one win in its last six matches.

Finland topped Greece 2-0 for its fifth consecutive clean-sheet win, going ahead on a goal by Pyry Soiri who finished off a messy chance in the box just after halftime as Greece failed to clear. Finland has not conceded a single goal since falling 2-0 to Romania in mid-June, a run of 479 total minutes. The center-back pairing of Joona Toivio and Paulus Arajuuri has started and played every minute of the three UEFA Nations League wins. Midfielder Glen Kamara scored Finland’s second, ending the country’s run of three straight 1-0 victories.

Switzerland held on to beat Iceland 2-1, with Haris Seferovic and Michael Lang on target for the visitors in Reykjavik. The former headed in a perfect far-post cross from Granit Xhaka just after halftime, while Lang finished off a beautiful bit of team play as Seferovic switched play from right to left before it came back in front of net, touching two Swiss players before finding Lang on the doorstep for finish in traffic. Alfred Finnbogason picked up a consolation with nine minutes left but that would wrap things up.

Hungary drew 3-3 with Estonia in a wild match that featured a double from Hoffenheim striker Adam Szalai. The 30-year-old Hungarian bagged a brace on his 50th cap, including his second that rescued a point for his country in the 81st minute after they wasted a 2-1 lead and fell behind 3-2.

Luxembourg topped 10-man San Marino 3-0, grabbing the opener just four minutes in and cruising to the win. Belarus and Moldova drew 0-0 in Minsk as Moldova failed to register a single shot on target despite holding the majority of possession.

Watch: NYCFC’s Alex Ring scores golazo in Finland win

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Finland hadn’t won a competitive match in two years. So it figures that it took a world class goal to make it happen.

Finland defeated Iceland, 1-0 in Tampere, Finland on the back of a brilliant free kick goal from New York City FC midfielder Alexander Ring. Ring’s free kick bent over and around the wall and off the crossbar for a goal in the eighth minute, and it was all Finland needed for a big World Cup qualifying victory.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Here’s the goal from the broadcast view.

New York City FC adds Finland mid with 42 caps at age 25

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Alexander Ring will get to see if his dreams of living in New York City were worth the fuss.

New York City FC announced the signing of the 41-times capped Finland international on Wednesday, giving the club an experienced player in his prime.

[ MORE: College CB joins Sunderland ]

Ring, 25, comes from Kaiserslautern in 2.Bundesliga, where he played box-to-box central mid in addition to defensive mid and right mid. The NYCFC web site says he can play as an attack-minded center mid as well.

The selling point for Ring was bringing his family to live in the Big Apple.

From New York City FC’s official web site:

“I think you can see the passion when I play. I’m really looking forward to coming to New York. I’ve already got all the stats about the fanbase and how good that is – with 30,000 spectators on average and I can’t wait to play at the Yankee Stadium – it’s an iconic stadium.

“I don’t want to say too much because I want people to make their own picture of me themselves but I think I’m an honest player who gives everything and plays with confidence.”

The move fits with NYCFC’s oft-discussed youth movement. The entire roster is under 30 with the exceptions of Andrea Pirlo, Frederic Brillant and David Villa.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

[ MORE: Full MLS Cup bracket ]

Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast

UEFA World Cup qualifying: PK saves Italy; More Icelandic magic (video)

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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.

[ MORE: All info on Bob Bradley’s Swans appointment ]

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.

[ MORE: How will USMNT lineup against Cuba? ]

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

Premier League veterans Dusan Tadic and Branislav Ivanovic scored in comfortable win.