With their second victories in the current qualification on Saturday, Turkey and Russia substantiated their claim to a ticket for the 2022 World Cup. The Turks prevailed after the opening success against the Netherlands against Norway 3-0 (2-0), Russia defeated Slovenia 2-1 (2-1).
Netherlands and Croatia with first full successes
The Netherlands (2-0 against Latvia) and Croatia (1-0 over Cyprus) were able to celebrate for the first time after their false starts. The Czech Republic and Belgium parted 1: 1. Serbia and Portugal delivered a pleasant exchange of blows (2-2). A supposed last-minute goal by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo did not count.
The Turks, who shocked the Netherlands 4-2 on Wednesday, started in Malaga like a shot thanks to Ozan Tufan (4th). Caglar Söyüncü beat Erling Haaland and Co. before the half-hour mark (28th), Tufan finally made the preliminary decision (59th). In the finish, Norway’s Kristian Thorstvedt (80th) saw red after a hard climb.
Level with Turkey is in Group G Montenegro after a 4: 1 (2: 1) over Gibraltar in Podgorica. Three points behind, the Netherlands made amends for the opening defeat against Turkey. Steven Berghuis (42nd) and Luuk de Jong (69th) ensured a safe but hard-earned 2-0 (1-0) home win over the pointless Latvians.
The game was led by the French Stephanie Frappart, who was the first referee in a World Cup qualifier to create a novelty. The Ukrainian Katerina Monsul, who will lead Austria against the Faroe Islands, will follow her on Sunday.
The Russians celebrated their second win in their second game with a home 2-1 (2-1) win against Slovenia and lead Group H. Artyom Djuba scored both goals in Sochi (26th, 35th). Three days after the 1-0 surprise against Croatia, Slovenia couldn’t get past Josip Ilicic’s goal (36th).
Embarrassments for Slovakia and Ireland
The Croatian World Cup finalist 2018 struggled in Rijeka against Cyprus to a 1-0 (1-0) or his first victory and drew level with the Slovenians (3 each) on points. The only goal scored by Mario Pasalic (40th). After his 135th international appearance, Luka Modric is now the sole Croatian record holder ahead of Darijo Srna. In this group, Slovakia is still without a win, which made an embarrassing 2: 2 against Malta after being 0: 2 behind.
Luxembourg also acted sensationally against Ireland (1-0). Gerson Rodrigues (85th) let the team of the Grand Duchy in Dublin cheer. In this Group A, Portugal felt they were being deprived of their second victory in Belgrade. Although Liverpool striker Diogo Jota headed the European champions comfortably in the front with two almost identical goals (11th, 36th).
But in the 46th minute, Aleksandar Mitrovic shortened with his 39th international goal for Serbia, which made him the record holder in front of Stjepan Bobek (1946-1956 for Yugoslavia). After an hour, Filip Kostic finalized an outstanding counterattack (60th). An alleged goal by Ronaldo in stoppage time was not recognized by the referee team. Not only the superstar saw the ball completely over the line, was then completely served and received yellow.
Group E now lead the Czech Republic and Belgium (1: 1) with four points each. The weakened Belgians – among other things, five professionals from the German Bundesliga were missing due to the threat of quarantine after their return – could well live with the away point. Romelu Lukaku (60th) equalized the Czech lead by Lukas Provod (50th).
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