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Grealish opens England account in 5-0 win over Andorra

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Jack Grealish came off the bench to score his first goal for England and complete a 5-0 rout of Andorra on Saturday which edged his side a step closer to sealing their place in next year’s World Cup finals. Manchester City’s Grealish, who came on for his 16th cap in the 73rd minute, produced a trademark dribble and finish to round off a satisfactory night for England manager Gareth Southgate who rested most of his big guns. Ben Chilwell began the scoring in Andorra’s tiny national stadium, also with his first England goal, and Bukayo Saka made it 2-0 shortly before the interval. AS Roma’s Tammy Abraham, given a first start for four years, made it 3-0 with a tap-in and James Ward-Prowse then had a 79th-minute penalty saved before converting the rebound. But the best was saved for last as Grealish dribbled around a tiring Andorra defence before slotting in a low shot.

First-half goals give Ukraine 2-1 win over Finland in World Cup qualifier

First-half goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk gave Ukraine a 2-1 win over Finland in their World Cup qualifier on Saturday. West Ham United forward Yarmolenko put the visitors ahead less than five minutes after kickoff when he drove home from 20 metres past the Finnish goalkeeper. Norwich City forward Teemu Pukki levelled for Finland in the 29th minute but Ukraine regained the lead minutes later with a goal from Yaremchuk. Ukraine moved into second place in Group D with eight points behind France on 12 points. Finland sit above Kazakhstan with five points.

Dramatic late winner keep alive Scotland’s World Cup dreams

Scott McTominay headed home deep in stoppage time as Scotland twice came from behind to beat Israel 3-2 on Saturday and keep alive hopes of a first World Cup finals appearance since 1998. The dramatic conclusion to their qualifier at Hampden Park, and three-point haul, means Scotland consolidated second place in Group F as they moved to 14 points, four ahead of third placed Israel, with three matches each still to play.  Denmark lead the group with a 100% record after six games.

Albania win away to keep alive unlikely World Cup dream

Armando Broja scored 10 minutes from time to hand Albania an upset 1-0 away victory over Hungary in Budapest on Saturday and keep up their hopes of an unlikely World Cup qualification. The English-born Broja, who is on loan at Southampton from Chelsea, scored for a second successive Group I game against Hungary after also netting a dramatic late winner in last month’s 1-0 home success in Elbasan. The game was played behind closed doors at the Puskas Arena after Hungary were fined and given a stadium ban after the racist abuse of England players in their World Cup qualifying clash last month. The points kept Albania in second place in Group I, one ahead of Poland, who were 5-0 winners over San Marino, and four behind leaders England, who won easily at Andorra. Albania, who used to be one of the whipping boys of European football, now have the opportunity of moving even closer to the minimum of a playoff berth in March if they beat Poland in their next match in Tirana on Tuesday.

Vlahovic keeps Serbia on course to reach World Cup

Serbia boosted their hopes of reaching the 2022 World Cup after a moment of individual skill from striker Dusan Vlahovic gave them a barely deserved 1-0 win at Luxembourg in a turgid Group A qualifier on Saturday. The result lifted Serbia to the top of the group on 14 points from six games, one more than Portugal who have a game in hand. Luxembourg stayed third on six points from five games.

Poland cruise to a comfortable victory over San Marino

Poland thrashed San Marino 5-0 in their Group I World Cup qualifier on Saturday as Paulo Sousa’s side remain one point behind second-placed Albania, who defeated Hungary in Budapest. Sousa started the game with just two players from the starting line-up against England in September, resting players such as Piotr Zielinski, Kamil Glik and Grzegorz Krychowiak ahead of Tuesday’s crunch match against Albania. Poland’s Karol Swiderski put the hosts ahead after ten minutes with a close-range header, followed by an own goal by San Marino ten minutes later, after defender Christian Brolli deflected a pass from Kacper Kozlowski. The hosts increased their lead shortly after halftime when defender Tomasz Kedziora struck the ball into the roof of the net. Striker Adam Buksa scored in the 84th minute having grabbed a hat-trick against San Marino in September. Krzysztof Piatek tapped the ball into the net in stoppage time in his first match since recovering from the injury that prevented him from playing at Euro 2020. Poland travel to Albania on Tuesday in an attempt to reclaim second spot in the group.

Denmark secure top two finish with thumping win in Moldova

Denmark marched on in their perfect campaign and Scotland found a stoppage-time winning goal against Israel to tighten their grip on second place in Europe Group F. Denmark’s 4-0 win at Moldova made it seven straight wins, still no goals conceded, and a seven-point lead over Scotland with three rounds of games left. Captain Simon Kjaer’s goal from the penalty spot was one of four in a 21-minute spell before halftime for the Danes. Their total of 26 is best in the 55-nation European qualifying program. One of the most impressive qualifying series in world soccer can be rewarded on Tuesday with one of the first tickets to the 32-team finals tournament in Qatar. Denmark next hosts Austria, which won at the Faeroe Islands 2-0 but stayed in fourth place.

Agencies/Reuters

Photo England’s Jack Grealish (C) and his teammates greet supporters at the end of the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying soccer match between Andorra and England in Andorra la Vella, Andorra, 09 October 2021. EPA-EFE/ALEJANDRO GARCIA

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