World Cup 2022 Qualifiers; Easy wins for England, Spain and France
World Cup 2022 Qualifiers Europe: Matchday 2 of 6 – Sunday 28, March 2021
Albania 0, England 2 – Group I
England registered their second consecutive win in their WC 2022 qualifying campaign when they coasted past Albania 2-0 away in Tirana on Sunday night.
Albania ranked 66th in the world missed a chance to go ahead early on when their winger Myrto Uzuni seized on a loose pass but blazed his effort over. They were however made to pay for the missed chance as Harry Kane opened the scoring for the Three Lions when he got his 33rd international goal from a superbly guided diving header off a Luke Shaw cross in the 38th minute of play.
Kane could have put England two ahead a little later when he met Raheem Sterling's incisive cross at the far-post but his half-volley crashed against the crossbar. The visitors looked even more dangerous in the second half with Phil Foden forcing a fine save from Albanian keeper Etrit Berisha who turned his shot against the post.
Albania let go off possession in a potent area in the 63rd minute and were taken to task as Kane essayed a pass to Mason Mount who coolly dispatched his shot past Berisha. England goalkeeper Nick Pope, deputizing for the injured Jordan Pickford, was hardly tested in the course of the match, as he became the first English custodian not to concede a goal in his first six appearances.
England now head the Group I cluster with 6 points from their 2 games, 2 points ahead of 2nd placed Poland whom they faced on Tuesday night.
Georgia 1, Spain 2 – Group B
A stoppage-time strike from Dani Olmo helped Spain scrape past Georgia in a Group B qualifying clash away in Tbilisi on Sunday night.
Georgia, ranked 89th in the world and 83 places below Spain, made life difficult for the visitors to the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena with their intense pressing game that paid them dividends when 20-year-old winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia skirted past the rival defense to fire his shot in two minutes before the interval.
Spain, who had never lost in a World Cup qualifier in 28 years levelled in the 56th minute through Ferran Torres who slid in to send a Jordi Alba cross into the roof of the net after Alvaro Morata had failed
to connect with the ball. As the hosts got tired of maintaining the ferocity of their pressing game, Luis Enrique's side went in search of a winner which they found in the 2nd minute of injury time when Olmo unleased an effort from long range.
Although goalkeeper Giorgi Loria got a hand to the shot, it dropped just under the crossbar and found the net. Georgia's Levan Shengelia was then sent off with a red card moments before the final whistle after a flying challenge on Pedri.
The Tbilisi win was Spain's first in the WC 2022 qualifying campaign following their 1-1 draw to Greece a few days ago. The Spaniards currently sit on the 2nd on the Group B table after Sweden who moved to 6 points after their 0-3 win away in Kosovo.
Kazakhstan 0, France 2 – Group B
A first half strike from Ousmane Dembele and an own-goal by Sergiy Malyi helped world-champions France overcome 122nd ranked Kazakhstan in a Group D clash away at the
Astana Arena on March 22nd night. Les Bleus opened the scoring for the night in the 19th minute of play when Dembele struck with a right-footed effort after being put through by Anthony Martial following a defense-splitting pass from Paul Pogba.
Martial could have made it two for the visitors but was thwarted by a fine clearance by Sergiy Maliy. The Kazakh defender was the culprit as he headed a cross into his own net to make it 0-2 for France in the 44th minute.
The champions didn't threaten the Kazakh goal much in the second half but could have easily added a third in the 76th minute when Kylian Mbapppe was fouled inside the box by Nuraly Alip. But Mbapppe’s lame effort from the penalty spot was easily saved by Kazakh keeper Aleksandr Mokin.
Adrien Rabiot made a final effort for the French when he careened down the left andwent for glory despite Mbappe being free in the area but his effort was dealt with by Mokin. Having been held 1-1 by Ukraine in Paris last Wednesday, France lead the
Group D with four points after the Astana win. Les Bleus are two points ahead of Ukraine and Finland who played out a 1-1 draw at the Kiev Olympic Stadium on the same night.
Results from other matches on Sunday 28, March 2021
- Group B: Kosovo 0-3 Sweden
- Group C: Bulgaria 0-2 Italy, Switzerland 1-0 Lithuania
- Group D: Ukraine 1-1 Finland
- Group F: Denmark 8-0 Moldova, Austria 3-1 Faroe Islands, Israel 1-1 Scotland
- Group I: Poland 3-0 Andorra, San Marino 0-3 Hungary
- Group J: Armenia 2-0 Iceland, North Macedonia 5-0 Liechtenstein, Romania 0-1 Germany
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