Switzerland book Euro 2016 place; Russia inch closer to qualification
Switzerland booked their place at Euro 2016 with a 7-0 Group G victory over San Marino.
The hosts scored six second-half goals – three from the penalty spot – and the celebrations started when news of Slovenia’s draw with Lithuania filtered through to St. Gallen. Michael Lang’s first-half goal was added to from penalties by Gokhan Inler, Johan Djourou and Breel Embolo and efforts from Admir Mehmedi, Pajtim Kasami and Eren Derdiyok.
Lang broke the deadlock after 17 minutes. Ricardo Rodriguez’s corner was flicked on by Embolo to the far post, where Lang arrived unmarked to steer home. That was the only moment the home fans had to cheer in the first half as San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini denied Inler, Kasami and Djourou.
But the floodgates opened 10 minutes into the second half. Davide Cesarini’s handball led to Leicester midfielder Inler sending Simoncini the wrong way from the spot. Admir Mehmedi made it three 10 minutes later, tapping into a gaping net after Simoncini had palmed Fabian Schar’s long-range effort back into the danger area.
Former Arsenal defender Djourou coolly slotted home to Simoncini’s left from the spot after Alessandro Della Valle had fouled Luca Zuffi with 19 minutes left. Kasami then fired into the far right corner in the 75th minute after being teed-up on the edge of the area by Francois Moubandje.
Switzerland’s third penalty – again conceded by Della Valle, this time for a foul on Derdiyok – was stroked in by Embolo and Derdiyok rounded things off with a minute remaining when he headed in Renato Steffen’s cross.
Russia took a big step toward qualifying for Euro 2016 on Friday as a 2-1 win over Moldova strengthened its hold on second place in Group G.
Russia struggled to break down the Moldovan defense but eventually took the lead through veteran defender Sergei Ignashevich, who blasted the ball into the net in the 58th minute after Artyom Dzyuba knocked on a free kick.
Dzyuba doubled Russia’s lead in the 78th minute with a tap-in, while Eugeniu Cebotaru rekindled Moldovan hopes with a header in the 85th minute. Going into the final round of group games on Monday, Russia has a two-point lead over second-placed Sweden, which beat Liechtenstein 2-0.
Austria, which has already qualified as group winner, twice recovered from a goal down to beat Montenegro 3-2.
Montenegro twice went ahead through strikes from captain Mirko Vucinic and Fatos Beciraj, but unbeaten Group G leaders Austria, who have already sealed their place in France next summer, drew level thanks to Marc Janko and Marko Arnautovic, the latter on 81 minutes.
Marcel Sabitzer, a 83rd-minute substitute, then struck in added time, after Vucinic had seen red, to leave Montenegro four points adrift of Sweden, who occupy the group’s play-off spot, with one game remaining.
Austria came into the clash having won their last seven group matches. Despite having nothing to play for, they dominated the early stages in Podgorica and only a fine save from Montenegro goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic kept out Sebastian Prodl’s header.
It was the hosts who took a 32nd-minute lead though, as Nikola Vukcevic’s splendid ball over the top saw Vucinic scuff home. Austria levelled 10 minutes after half-time when Janko bundled the ball in at the back post from Martin Harnik’s cross along the six-yard area.
While Montenegro re-established their lead through Beciraj, who fired home after Austria had failed to clear their lines from a corner, the visitors pulled level once more thanks to a fine solo goal from Arnautovic. The Stoke winger dribbled the width of the Montenegro box nine minutes from time before rifling low back across Poleksic.
There was more drama to come as Vucinic was red carded for dissent before Sabitzer won it in added-on time with a thunderous strike on the edge of the box after the ball had broken kindly for him.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.