UEFA World Cup qualifying scores: England extend winning run; Gareth Bale hat trick earns Wales vital win – CBSSports.com - Techy Hunters


Sunday, September 5, 2021

UEFA World Cup qualifying scores: England extend winning run; Gareth Bale hat trick earns Wales vital win – CBSSports.com

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The likely World Cup qualifiers from Europe are beginning to take emerge as UEFA’s 10 groups reach the halfway stage. For some qualification looks to be an increasing certainty with England now five from five in Group I but there is the promise of drama across the continent in the coming months.

Here are the results from Sunday so far:

UEFA World Cup qualifying scores

Group B
Spain vs. Georgia (2:45 p.m. ET)
Kosovo vs. Greece (2:45 p.m. ET)

Group C
Bulgaria 1, Lithuania 0
Switzerland vs. Italy (2:45 p.m. ET)

Group E
Belarus 2, Wales 3
Belgium vs. Czech Republic (2:45 p.m. ET)

Group I
England 4, Andorra 0
Albania 1, Hungary 0
San Marino vs. Poland (2:45 p.m. ET)

Group J
Iceland 2, North Macedonia 2
Romania vs. Liechtenstein (2:45 p.m. ET)
Germany vs. Armenia (2:45 p.m. ET)

England make heavy weather of Andorra win

England were always going to beat Andorra, the sixth-lowest ranked nation in Europe. Really the only issue to be decided in the Wembley sun was how many they’d score, whether they could really cut loose and who would make the most of the minutes afforded to them as Gareth Southgate made 11 changes from the side that won in Hungary.

Ultimately they got a comprehensive win that ensures they are five from five in Group I but this was hardly a great watch for home supporters in England’s first match since the Euro 2020 final. The hosts moved the ball neatly enough but no matter the quality of opponents it will rarely be easy to break down opposition that will put 10 or 11 men behind the ball.

Though it is sometimes hard to assess performances in what is a glorified attack versus defense training drill, the shining light might have been Jude Bellingham. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder is used to a higher class of opponent in the Bundesliga and seemed to relish the chance to delve deep into his box of tricks, drawing Andorran defenders to him and then brushing by them.

That was how England’s opener came about. As the opposition gravitated towards him Bellingham had the vision to switch the play to Saka on the left. The cross was not exactly to the standard that Arsenal fans have come to expect of the youngster they call their starboy but Marc Vales’ clearing header only went as far as Lingard, who dragged the ball out from beneath his feet with a low drive into the bottom corner.

That was nothing compared to when Lingard put the ball in the net for the second time, a lob that seemed to float out of Wembley’s orbit before dropping into Josep Gomes’ net. He was a fair few feet offside when debutant Patrick Bamford played him in, perhaps the linesman just wanted to see what Lingard would do. It was worth letting him play on.

It was to Andorra’s credit that they stayed in the contest for as long as they did, though England wasted their share of chances including a Conor Coady bicycle kick over the bar. It was the sort of day where the Wolverhampton Wanderers center back was allowed to try those sorts of shots. Making his debut on his birthday, Bamford was rather starved of the service he needed to mark that special moment with a goal. Indeed not until he made way for Harry Kane did the second arrive, fellow substitutes Jack Grealish and Mason Mount combining to win a penalty that their captain converted for his 39th international goal.

Lingard soon added the third, Saka cutting infield and teeing up the No. 10, whose top-spin shot bounced awkwardly in front of Gomes and reared over the Andorra goalkeeper. Roles were reversed for the fourth as Trent Alexander-Arnold took a quick corner to Lingard, a drilled cross flicked in by Saka as he celebrated his birthday — and return to Wembley after his miss in the Euro 2020 final penalty shootout — in style.

Bale the hero in vital Wales win

England may not be the only one of the “home nations” to reach Qatar next winter with Wales firmly in the hunt for a top-two berth in their group after a thrilling late win over Belarus in Kazan, Russia. As has so often been the case in their recent footballing history Gareth Bale was the Welsh hero, his hat trick turning what threatened to be a damaging defeat for Rob Page’s side into a vital win.

Bale’s first two goals came from the penalty spot, opening the scoring in the sixth minute and drawing the nominally away side level in the 69th minute after goals from Vitali Lisakovich and Pavel Sedko put the Belarussians ahead in a thrilling period around the half hour. It seemed like Wales, without four injured starters including Aaron Ramsey and with several players unable to make the trip to Russia due to visa issues, were set for a damaging loss in what is shaping up to be a tightly contested group as the clock ticked beyond the hour mark.

However a clumsy foul by Max Ebong as Ben Davies flew through the air gave Bale a chance to draw the game equal, one he took with composure. If the first two goals had not tested the Real Madrid man’s technique his late winner asked plenty of Wales’ record scorer.  Substitute Mark Harris forced the issue in added time, finding space in the left side of the box and squirming an effort that was just cleared in front of the goal line by a recovering defender. Belarus could not have wished for a worse opponent to see waiting for the rebound. Off balance and moving away from goal, Bale did superbly to hook his left foot around the ball with sufficient pace to beat Sergei Chernik as he scrambled back. 

He had not scored an international goal in two years but it was worth waiting for that trio; with a game in hand, Wales are now a point behind second placed Czech Republic. A win or even a draw in Plzen next month would put a top-two berth within Welsh control.

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