Though Italy and Croatia cruised to multi-goal wins, Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifiers were less about favorites’ statements than underdogs’ glory. In Prague and Zenica, World Cup qualifiers were left empty-handed after their campaigns’ first 90 minutes, while one of the day’s more compelling games turned into a one-sided result in Reykjavik.
Here are the day’s results:
Kazakhstan 0-0 Latvia – A match short on chances saw the home side pressure their conservative guests into halftime, though Latvia nearly took the lead through Vladislav Gabovs mid-way through the second half. Out-shot 10-4 on the day, the Latvians were fortunate to leave Astana with a result, with a late Andrejs Kovajvos blast off the Latvian woodwork denying the home side full points.
Iceland 3-0 Turkey – What looked like one of the day’s most competitive games became Tuesday’s most lopsided result, with Fatih Terim’s team handed an early rebuke. Jon Dadi Boedvarsson’s 16th minute opener put the home side up early, giving Iceland the lead they’d carry into the final quarter-hour. In the 76th and 77th minutes, the home team pulled away, with goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson building the day’s most one-sided result.
Czech Republic 2-1 Netherlands – Vaclav Pilar played hero as the Czech Republic, six days removed from a disappointing against the U.S., took full points from the group favorites, who saw a late mistake from Newcastle’s Daryl Janmaat cost them a result in Prague. After goals for Borek Dockal (21′) and Stefan de Vrij (55′) sent the teams into stoppage time even, the new Newcastle defender put an errand back-header off his own post, allowing Pilar to clean up for the 92nd minute winner.
Next up: Latvia vs. Iceland, Netherlands vs. Kazakhstan, Turkey vs. Czech Republic on Oct. 10
Andorra 1-2 Wales – A Europeon qualifier was played on an artificial surface, and the Earth decline to stop turning. Instead, Gareth Bale, bringing his team back after Ildefona Lima put Andorra up from the spot, scored on each side of halftime, with his 81st minute winner vaulting Wales to join-top of the group.
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-2 Cyprus – In one of the bigger surprises of the opening round (non-Portugal division), the World Cup qualifiers failed to defend their home ground, conceding two goals to Demetris Christofi in Cyprus’s comeback in. Vedad Ibisevic gave the home side a lead after six minutes, but after goals in the 45th and 73th minute, Christofi had secured his team’s upset result.
Next up: Belgium vs. Andorra, Cyprus vs. Israel, Wales vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina on Oct. 10
Azerbaijan 1-2 Bulgaria – Dimitrij Nazarov’s shot from just outside the area pulled back Bulgaria’s 16th opener just after halftime, nearly securing a home point for Barti Vogts’ side. Three minutes before time, however, Ventsislav Hristov headed home a Bulgaria corner, giving the Lions a valuable three points on the road.
Croatia 2-0 Malta – Worries arising from Croatia’s scoreless first half were alleviated less than a minute after intermission when Luka Modric put Niko Kovac’s team in front. Nine minutes before time, Andrej Kramaric doubled the home side’s lead, giving Croatia full points to start what’s expected to be a successful qualifying campaign.
Norway 0-2 Italy – Four days after making his international debut, Simone Zaza had his first Italy goal, scoring in the 16th minute to give the Azzurri a 1-0 lead in Oslo. Holding the Norweigans without a shot on target, Italy cruised to a two-goal victoryafter Leonardo Bonucci’s 62nd minute score secured Antonio Conte’s first competitive win.
Next up: Bulgaria vs. Croatia, Italy vs. Azerbaijan, Malta vs. Norway on Oct. 10