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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: England held by Poland; Germany, Italy dominant

A late Damian Szymanski header snapped England's winning streak in the ongoing FIFA World Cup qualifiers. In other groups, Germany's Leroy Sane and Italy's Moise Kean starred in their teams' wins.

By: Reuters |
Updated: September 9, 2021 8:41:57 am
Poland's Damian Szymanski celebrates scoring a goal against England in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. (AP)

Damian Szymanski headed in a stoppage-time equaliser as Poland ended England’s 100% record in Group I to draw their World Cup qualifier 1-1 on Wednesday.

Harry Kane had fired England ahead with a swerving strike in the 72nd minute as Gareth Southgate’s side looked set for a sixth straight win.

But in the second minute of stoppage time, substitute Szymanski rose well at the back post to nod in a floated cross from Robert Lewandowski as Poland kept their hopes of qualification alive.

“An amazing feeling. I’m glad we managed to score that goal in the last minutes. I’m happy,” said Symanszki. “I’ve worked hard for this, struggled with injuries. To play against England, to score a goal, it’s a dream come true.”

England has 16 points from six games with Albania second on 12 points, Poland on 11 and Hungary on 10 points.

The top team in the group qualifies for next year’s World Cup in Qatar with the second-place team heading into the playoffs.

Sane inspired Germany routs Iceland

Winger Leroy Sane scored one goal and made another as Germany made it three wins in a row with a resounding 4-0 victory over Iceland in World Cup qualifying Group J on Wednesday.

The Germans took the lead in the fifth minute when Sane played in Serge Gnabry to score, and after a lengthy VAR review for a possible offside, the goal stood.

The visitor added a second 20 minutes later when Antonio Rudiger was left unmarked to score with a header from a Joshua Kimmich free kick.

A constant threat with his quick dribbling and precise passing, Sane effectively killed the game off when he rifled the ball into the roof of the net after another flowing German attack 11 minutes into the second half.

Werner added a late fourth that hit the left-hand post and bounced out before spinning back across the line to round off an encouraging team performance.

The Germans have taken a maximum nine points from their first three games under new coach Hansi Flick, scoring 12 goals and conceding none.

Germany tops the group on 15 points, four ahead of Armenia. Romania is third on 10 points with four games left to play, with Iceland fifth on four points.

Italy crushes Lithuania with 5-0 win

Italy recorded its first win since being crowned European champion as strikers Moise Kean and Giacomo Raspadori inspired a crushing 5-0 win over Lithuania to strengthen its grip on top spot in World Cup qualifying Group C.

The two 21-year-olds impressed their manager by lighting up the first half, as Kean netted twice either side of an Edgaras Utkus own goal and Raspadori, making his first start for his country, also scored.

“Everything is in their heads and their feet. If they are committed and work seriously, they have great futures. But it is up to them,” Italy manager Roberto Mancini told RAI.

It was the first time Italy, who endured frustrating draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland in its previous two qualifiers, scored four goals in the first 30 minutes of a match.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo inadvertently added a fifth when his second-half cross-shot nestled in the bottom corner, as the Azzurri side comfortably extended their record international unbeaten run to 37 matches.

Italy tops the standings with 14 points, six ahead of second-placed Switzerland following its 0-0 draw away to Northern Ireland. Lithuania remained bottom with zero points.

In Belfast, Bailey Peacock-Farrell was the hero for Northern Ireland as the goalkeeper saved Haris Seferovic’s first-half penalty to earn a 0-0 draw against Switzerland.

Spain brushes aside Kosovo

Goals from Pablo Fornals and Ferran Torres earned Spain a 2-0 victory away to Kosovo in World Cup qualifying Group B on Wednesday and dragged it back into automatic qualification contention.

Fornals produced a fine near-post finish from the angle on 32 minutes after smart build-up play from Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata.

Torres went on to seal the win in the 90th minute from a counter-attack. After initially being flagged offside, the goal was awarded following a VAR check.

Luis Enrique’s side moved clear at the top of the group on 13 points from six games, four ahead of Sweden who has played two matches fewer.

Greece defeated Sweden 2-1 on Wednesday to move into third place on six points.

Praet scores for Belgium in narrow win over Belarus

Dennis Praet’s first-half goal secured a narrow 1-0 away win for Belgium over Belarus in Kazan on Wednesday to move it closer to World Cup qualification.

The midfielder’s 33rd-minute strike maintained Belgium’s unbeaten run in Group E as it advanced to 16 points, nine points ahead of the Czech Republic, who has played one game fewer, and Wales, who has two games in hand.

Belarus, who did not trouble Belgium in the game, has now lost four of five qualifiers and sits second from bottom in the group.

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