Home Newsroom FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers: Week of

FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers: Week of

by Michael McDevit
0 comment 14 views

The big boys can be beaten

Although several favourites still recorded comfortable wins, most notably Japan’s 14-0 triumph in Mongolia, several matches threw up surprising results. Few would have predicted that the Netherlands would lose 4-2 to Turkey in their opening FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifier. Having looked unstoppable after their 6-0 rout of Germany in the UEFA Nations League last autumn, Spain toiled to secure a 1-1 draw with Greece, before only beating Georgia 2-1 thanks to an injury-time winner.

Most surprisingly of all, four-time winners Germany slumped to a 2-1 loss to North Macedonia in Duisburg. Joachim Low’s men had already shown signs of weakness in their 1-0 win in Romania, and this latest shock setback suggests they have not yet overcome the issues that led to their heavy 6-0 defeat at the hands of Spain last autumn.


Notable matches March 30

Luxembourg 1-3 Portugal

Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal shoots during the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying match between Luxembourg and Portugal
  • Portugal came from behind to beat Luxembourg 3-1 away and make it seven points from a possible nine in Group A. Gerson Rodrigues, who was immense from the outset, scored a magnificent diving header to stun a team 93 places above Luxembourg on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. However, close-range goals from Diogo Jota and Cristiano Ronaldo either side of the break swung the game in Portugal’s favour, before substitute Joao Palhinha sealed victory.

Slovakia 2-1 Russia

  • Slovakia got their campaign up and running with victory over 2018 hosts Russia in Trnava. Milan Skriniar powered in a header from a corner kick minutes before half-time to put the home side in front. Mario Fernandes equalised for Stanislav Cherchesov’s charges, but Robert Mak produced a moment of individual brilliance and scored the winner to leave things wide open in Group H.

Match results March 31

Group B

Spain 3-1 Kosovo

Spain leapfrogged Sweden to go top of Group B. Spain’s stoppage-time hero from their 2-1 win over Georgia, Dani Olmo, opened the scoring and found the top corner with a beautiful, curled shot. Ferran Torres had Spain up by two just a minute later with a laser-accurate, low and driven finish that kissed the post before going in. Besar Halimi gave La Roja a real scare when he scored a bizarre goal, stripping Unai Simon of the ball nearly at the halfway line and scoring from well over 40 yards. However, the in-form Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno restored Luis Enrique’s side’s two-goal cushion 15 minutes from time with a near-post header from a corner kick.

  • Did you know? Spain extended their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying matches to 66 games (W52 D14) – their last defeat in a World Cup qualifier was all the way back on 31 March 1993 when they lost 1-0 against Denmark.

Greece 1-1 Georgia

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s wonder goal earned Georgia a 1-1 draw in Greece in Group B. A game of few opportunities swung the Greeks way when Otar Kakabadze, attempting to put the ball out for a corner, volleyed it into his own net in the 76th minute. Within minutes, however, 20-year-old Kvaratskhelia continued his fine form by dribbling past two opponents and finding the bottom corner.

Group C

Lithuania 0-2 Italy

A much-changed Italy made it three straight 2-0 wins by easing past Lithuania in Vilnius. Stefano Sensi broke the deadlock three minutes after coming on at half-time for his third goal in eight internationals, and a Ciro Immobile penalty deep into injury time sealed victory. Italy top Group C, three points above Switzerland, who have a game in hand.

  • Did you know? Italy have lost only two of their last 42 World Cup qualifying matches. The Azzurri are unbeaten in their last 25 matches in all competitions (W20 D5). They have also won each of their last six matches without conceding a goal and the most recent five matches by the same scoreline of 2-0.

Northern Ireland 0-0 Bulgaria

Northern Ireland’s winless run continued after a goalless draw with Bulgaria that advanced neither team’s chances of reaching Qatar 2022. The hosts had the best of the game’s few chances, and came within millimetres of an opener in the first half when Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas headed against the crossbar. But ultimately there was no way through for either side.

  • Did you know? Northern Ireland are now winless in their last eight matches and have failed to score in any of their last five World Cup qualifiers.

Group D

Bosnia and Herzegovina 0-1 France

The world champions endured a tough night but came away from Sarajevo with all three points and extended their lead at the top of the group. Antoine Griezmann scored the lone goal, his 35th for his country, in the 60th minute, guiding in a well-placed header from Adrien Rabiot’s cross. Griezmann has now played in 46 consecutive games for France; the last time he did not feature was on 13 June 2017.

  • Did you know? France have now won each of their last eight away games in all competitions, seven of those without conceding a goal.

Ukraine 1-1 Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan claimed a famous point in Kiev, while the hosts have started their Qatar 2022 qualifiers with three consecutive 1-1 draws. Oleksandr Zinchenko dribbled at the heart of the Kazakhstan defence before releasing Roman Yaremchuk, who curled a shot into the bottom corner. Kazakhstan equalised on the other side of half-time out of nowhere. Serikzan Muzhikov guided home a shot from just inside the penalty area to ensure they would be leaving with their first point of the current campaign.

  • Did you know? Ukraine have won just one of their last six World Cup qualifiers.

Group F

Austria 0-4 Denmark

Group F leaders Denmark continued their hugely impressive start to Qatar 2022 qualifying with a second-half goal spree in Austria. There had been little to separate the sides – first and second in Group F at kick-off – before Andreas Skov Olsen fired high into the net 12 minutes into the second half. But that led to a flurry of four goals in the space of just 16 minutes, with Joakim Maehle and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on target before Olsen completed his double as Austria’s defence fell apart.

  • Did you know? Denmark are now unbeaten in their last 12 World Cup qualifying matches and have conceded just five goals during that sequence.

Scotland 4-0 Faroe Islands

John McGinn was the goal hero again as Scotland claimed their first win of the Qatar 2022 qualifiers and moved up to second place in Group F. The Aston Villa midfielder, who scored a spectacular overhead kick in the Scots’ 2-2 draw with Austria, swept home Kieran Tierney’s cutback to settle any early nerves and made sure of victory with a firm header from another excellent Tierney centre. Che Adams then opened his international account in just his second start for Clarke’s team and Ryan Fraser nodded home from Andrew Robertson’s pinpoint cross.

  • Did you know? Scotland are now unbeaten in their last nine World Cup qualifiers.

Moldova 1-4 Israel

Israel kickstarted their Group F campaign with an emphatic 4-1 win in Moldova that moved them on to four points from three games. Catalin Carp gave the hosts the lead, but Eran Zahavi equalised on the stroke of half-time. Moldova’s Ion Nicolaescu was sent off shortly after the restart, and three goals within nine minutes – courtesy of Manor SolomonMunas Dabbur and Bebras Natcho – powered Israel to victory.

Group I

England 2-1 Poland

Harry Maguire’s late strike snatched England a 2-1 win over Poland at Wembley that moved them on to nine points from three games. Harry Kane assuredly scored a penalty earned by Raheem Sterling to give the 1966 world champions a 19th-minute lead, but after a mistake by John Stones just before the hour, Jakub Moder levelled with a fierce finish from close range. Stones made amends from a late corner, heading the ball back to Maguire, whose strike through a crowd proved too powerful for Wojciech Szczesny to keep out.

  • Did you know? England have now won 23 and drawn two of their last 25 World Cup qualifiers at home since losing to Germany in 2000. Greece and Ukraine are the only teams to come away with a point during this period of time.

Andorra 1-4 Hungary

Hungary made it two wins on the bounce with victory in Andorra La Vella. Attila Fiola headed the visitors in front seconds before the half-time whistle. Daniel Gazdag and Laszlo Kleinheisler put Hungary three goals clear early in the second half before Loic Nego made it four in the 90th minute. Andorra grabbed a consolation penalty, converted by captain Marc Pujol.

  • Did you know? Hungary are unbeaten in their last nine matches. 

San Marino 0-2 Albania

Albania bounced back from defeat by England with a victory in Serravalle, but they had to be patient. Rey Manaj headed in the opener in the 63rd minute before Myrto Uzuni was alert and finished from close range with five minutes remaining. Tougher tests await Edy Reja’s side with Poland and Hungary to come in September.

Group J

Armenia 3-2 Romania

Armenia came from behind to win a thrilling contest with Romania and continue their stunning start to Qatar 2022 qualifying. The goals all came in a breathtaking second half, which burst into life when the hosts’ Eduard Spertsyan drifted forward unopposed and beat Florin Nita from 25 yards – albeit with the aid of a wicked deflection. Romania recovered well though, and turned the scoreline on its head through a quickfire double from Alexandru Cicaldau. But the match turned again on a red card for George Puscas following a reckless high challenge, and the noisy home crowd exploded thanks to two goals in the final three minutes – a header from captain Varazdat Haroyan and a coolly dispatched Tigran Barseghyan penalty.

  • Did you know? Armenia have now won three successive World Cup qualifiers for the first time in their history and remain perched above Germany at the summit of Group J.

Germany 1-2 North Macedonia

North Macedonia produced the biggest upset of European’s Qatar 2022 qualifiers thus far with a famous win away to Germany. Goran Pandev finished off a delightful team move to stun the Brazil 2014 winners just before the break, but Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty restored parity in the 63rd minute. After Timo Werner had missed a golden chance to put Germany ahead, Eljif Elmas pounced to seize North Macedonia one of their best-ever results.

  • Did you know? North Macedonia are only the second team to score more than one goal in an away World Cup qualifier in Germany since England in Sept 2001, Sweden being the other in 4-4 draw in October 2012.

Liechtenstein 1-4 Iceland

Iceland ended a seven-match losing run and revived their Qatar 2022 hopes with a comfortable win in Liechtenstein. The Icelanders, who made their World Cup debut in 2018, had enjoyed a miserable start to the current qualifying campaign but their nerves were settled inside 12 minutes of kick-off when Birkir Saevarsson put them ahead. The visitors completely dominated thereafter and made sure of the points when Birkir Bjarnason doubled their advantage just before half-time. Victor Palsson and Runar Sigurjonsson added to the scoreline late on, rendering Yanik Frick’s effort for the hosts a mere consolation.

Share with your friends and family!
0 comment

You may also like