Netherlands stay alive in Euro 2016 hunt; Italy clinch spot after win
The Netherlands kept alive its hopes of qualifying for next year’s European Championship by beating Kazakhstan 2-1.
Midfielders Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder scored in the 33rd and 50th minutes respectively to ensure the fight for third spot in Group A goes down to the final round of qualifiers on Tuesday. Islambek Kuat scored a consolation goal with the last touch of the match.
Already-qualified Iceland squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Latvia. Turkey, which will assure itself of third place and a playoff spot if it wins its last two matches, plays already qualified Czech Republic later Saturday.
The Netherlands has not missed a major tournament since the 2002 World Cup.
Stephan El Shaarawy ended a three-year drought by scoring the winning goal as Italy beat Azerbaijan 3-1 Saturday to qualify for next year’s European Championship.
Antonio Conte’s men began the day with a two-point lead at the top of Group H, knowing victory would see them on a flight to France next summer.
And they overcame the nerves to complete the task, with Eder opening the scoring after 11 minutes.
Dmitri Nazarov’s equaliser in the 32nd minute gave Italy a fright but goals from Stephan El Shaarawy (43) and Matteo Darmian (65) made sure of the win.
Badavi Huseynov’s dismissal two minutes from time capped a bad night for Azerbaijan but Italy preserved their advantage over Norway, who made it three wins on the trot with a 2-0 result at home to Malta.
Goals from Alexander Tettey and Alexander Soderlund wrapped up the points, but they must wait for the result of the match between Croatia and Bulgaria to see whether they will join the Italians at the European Championship.
Norway also took a big step toward qualifying with a 2-0 win over Malta.
Goals in either half from Alexander Tettey and Alexander Soderlund boosted Per-Mathias Hogmo’s men to a 2-0 victory over Group H also-rans Malta in Oslo.
Norway are five points clear of third-placed Croatia and will be assured of a place at next summer’s European Championship in France if Bulgaria can beat their Zagreb hosts, or hold them to a draw.
Valerijs Sabala’s second-half goal helped Latvia pull off a superb 2-2 draw and gain plenty of pride in their Euro 2016 qualifying dead rubber against Iceland in Reykjavik.
Group A toppers Iceland had taken a stranglehold on the game by half-time, with Swansea man Gylfi Sigurdsson setting up the first for his national captain Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and then grabbing one himself.
Latvia halved the deficit early in the second half through Aleksandrs Cauna before an excellent volley from Sabala meant the already qualified Icelanders were handed just their second draw of the qualifying campaign.