Euro 2016 Qualifying Review: Belgium, Italy And Wales Celebrate
Euro 2016 now has 12 teams qualified for the tournament after Belgium, Italy and Wales secured their progress to France on Saturday.
Italy made certain of their place at Euro 2016 with a 3-1 win over Group H rivals Azerbaijan in Baku. The group leaders needed one win from their final two qualifiers and goals from Eder, Stephan El Shaarawy and Matteo Darmian ensured they go into Tuesday’s qualification finale with Norway a$$ured of their spot.
The home side, who had earlier looked threatening when they briefly made it one apiece through Dima Nazarov in the first half, had Badavi Huseynov sent off in the final minutes.
Norway scored a goal in each half through Alexander Tettey and Alexander Soderlund as they recorded a 2-0 victory over Malta in Oslo.
That result was not enough to seal their qualification, though, with Croatia comfortably going on to beat Bulgaria 3-0 later on Saturday thanks to strikes from Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic, Nikola Kalinic. Duje Cop was sent off late on, but the points were already secured.
Going into the final matchday, Norway have a two-point advantage on Croatia, but have to face Italy in their last game, while Ante Cacic’s men travel to Malta.
If Croatia were to win that game, Norway would have to beat Italy – a point would not be enough due to their inferior head-to-head record.
Netherlands kept their hopes of reaching Euro 2016 alive after goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder gave them a 2-1 win in Kazakhstan.
Impressive debutant Anwar El Ghazi set up Wijnaldum for the opener after 33 minutes and Sneijder added a wonderfully worked second. The hosts scored with virtually the last kick of the match through Islambek Kuat but it mattered little on a night of celebration for Robin van Persie, who was introduced late on to win his 100th cap for his country.
However, the Dutch still do not have their fate in their own hands. Turkey’s impressive 2-0 win in Czech Republic – secured through Selcuk Inan’s penalty and a Hakan Calhanoglu goal – keeps them two points clear in third.
If they get at least a draw at home to Iceland in their final match, Netherlands will be out regardless of their own result against the Czechs.
Iceland, who have already qualified, were held to a surprise 2-2 draw by Latvia. The match appeared to be heading towards a routine home win when Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson netted to have them two up by half-time. However, Aleksandrs Cauna and Valerijs Sabala earned Latvia a creditable point.
Belgium booked their place in Euro 2016 with a comprehensive 4-1 win in Andorra. Radja Nainggolan, Kevin De Bruyne and Laurent Depoitre netted for the visitors, while Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was also on the scoresheet, netting one of his two penalties, both of which were awarded for handballs by the hosts.
That result puts them top of Group B after Wales suffered a 2-0 loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Filip Djuric headed the home side ahead with 20 minutes remaining, before Vedad Ibisevic netted at the death to seal the points.
But Israel’s shock 2-1 home defeat to Cyprus means Wales go through with a game to spare regardless of the defeat. Despite a stunning Nir Bitton goal, strikes from Dossa Junior and Jason Demetriou secured an upset.
As well as sending Wales through, the outcome of that game puts Bosnia firmly in control of the race to finish third. They now lead Israel by one point and face Cyprus in their last game, while their rivals for the play-off spot have to round off their campaign away to Belgium.