Humble Bulgaria prevented a good start for Italy, the European champion in the European qualifiers for the World Cup Qatar 2022, by snatching a 1-1 draw at home, while Sweden gained the advantage over Spain in the struggle to win the only qualifying card for Group B with a 2-1 victory.
England crushed its host Hungary 4-0, and Germany beat Liechtenstein 2-0.
At the “Artemio Franchi” stadium in Florence, Italy made a disappointing display and settled for a draw with Bulgaria, which last participated in the World Cup finals in 1994, when it finished fourth.
The draw is the first for Italy in this qualifier, after winning its first three matches in the qualifiers with a score of 2-0 over Northern Ireland in Parma, Bulgaria in Sofia and Lithuania in Vilnius.
Juventus striker Enrico Chiesa opened the scoring for the European champions with a creeping left-footed shot after 16 minutes, but Bulgaria quickly equalized through Atanas Iliev in the 39th minute.
Despite the almost absolute control of the Italian team, especially in the second half, he was unable to get the three points of the match.
But despite the disappointment of the draw, Italy raised its tally of matches to 35 without losing, its longest streak in its history, equaling the record recorded on behalf of the teams of Spain and Brazil.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini commented on his team’s result, saying, “We had to be more effective in front of goal. We completely controlled the game and the opposing team had one chance on a counter-attack that he managed to translate. This is football.”
Sweden takes advantage of Spain
Sweden dealt a moral blow to Spain’s hopes of reaching the World Cup finals in Qatar 2022 directly, by defeating them 2-1 in the second group competition.
Sweden has won the full mark with 9 points so far by winning its three matches, while Spain has 7 points and played more matches. It is also the first loss for Spain in the World Cup qualifiers since 1993 against Denmark, 0-1.
The teams that top their groups qualify directly for the world finals, while the runners-up teams in the ten groups will play a play-off along with two qualified teams from the Nations League to settle the remaining three cards for the finals for the old continent.
The start of the match came quickly from both sides and the Spaniards opened the scoring through Carlos Soler after 45 minutes. However, the guests did not enjoy much with the first goal because Sweden responded in the next minute through the young striker Alexander Isaac. Before Viktor Kleisen settled the score in favor of the hosts, scoring the winning goal in the 57th minute after a superb pass from winger Dejan Kulusevsky.
The result comes as a bit of a surprise after the impressive journey of Spain’s coach Los Enrique’s squad in the European Cup, where his team reached the semi-finals, relying on a mixture of experienced players and a youth element in the ranks of La Roja.
Spain must rise from this stumble when it hosts Georgia on Sunday before facing Kosovo on Wednesday.
full mark of england
England won the full mark since the start of the qualifiers and took a giant step towards reaching the 2022 World Cup finals, by crushing Hungary by four goals in Budapest.
The “Three Lions” team consolidated its lead with the full score with 12 points from 4 matches, 5 points ahead of the second Poland, which in turn crushed Albania 4-1, while Hungary’s balance froze at 7 points in third place.
The first half ended with a disappointing negative tie for the England team, which was the most active and missed several chances, most notably striker Harry Kane, who opened the second half after a pass from Kyle Walker with a shot from inside the area that was blocked by goalkeeper Peter Golachki (50).
The England team found the right opportunity to open the scoring, after a joint game started by Jack Grealish to Mason Mount and from him a cross inside the area to Raheem Sterling to hit with his right foot a ball that landed in the net (55).
It is the 18th goal of the Manchester City striker in 69 international matches.
Kane quickly left his mark after a header from the penalty spot after a cross from top scorer Sterling, who turned into a passer of crucial balls, to raise the Tottenham striker to 39 goals, a goal difference from fifth-ranked Michael Owen.
No sooner did the Hungarian defense wake up from the second blow until it received the third after a corner kick by Luke Shaw, followed by Harry Maguire’s header after rising high (69).
The series of missing goals continued in exchange for the brilliance of goalkeeper Gulache to tackle Sterling and Kane, before the Leipzig goalkeeper made a mistake in estimating a shot from outside the area by Declan Rice after a dribbling break from Jack Grealish, to hit the ball with his hand and shake the net (87).
A dull win for Germany
And the German national team began the era of its new coach, Hansi Flick, with a modest victory over Liechtenstein 2-0 in the fourth round of the tenth group competition.
Germany advanced to second place in the group with 9 points, one point behind leaders Armenia, which tied negatively with its host North Macedonia, which now occupies third place with 7 points. While Romania raised its score to 6 points in fourth place, after its second victory in the qualifiers, at the expense of its guest Iceland, with two clean goals.
At the Kebonpark in St. Gallen, Switzerland, the “Mannschaft” team did not convince much, despite its victory with two goals scored by Timo Werner in the 41st minute and Leroy Sane in the 77th minute.
Flick was replaced by Joachim Loew, who supervised the Manchaft for the last time in the European Cup finals, where he was eliminated in the second round at the hands of England.
Belgium did not find it difficult to overcome Estonia 5-2, including a double for its top scorer Romelu Lukaku, the best scorer in its history, after raising his score to 66 goals in 99 international matches.
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