Emily Wilson·25 March 2023
Emily Wilson·25 March 2023
More European qualifiers took place on Saturday. Here is what went down as teams gear up for Euro 2024.
Scorer: Olmo 13′, Joselu 84′, 85′
Spain faced Norway in their opening qualifier and pulled off a 3-0 win which could have all been different if the injured Erling Haaland was available.
Keen to dominate possession, Spain lunged forward early on and Alejandro Baldé’s cross deflected off Dani Olmo’s leg for his sixth for his country after roughly 10 minutes.
Norway captain Martin Ødegaard then almost pulled level as his shot was blocked before Kepa was called into a diving save minutes later.
Spain maintained dominance of the ball as expected and Alvaro Morata forced goalkeeper Ørjan Nyland to stay on his toes.
Coming out into the second half Norway threatened for an equaliser, with Kepa again pulling off big stops to prevent the ball from finding the net. He was making his first appearance for Spain since 202o!
Spain’s attacking threat died out by the hour mark (bar some impressive Balde work) and it welcomed the potential for Norway to fight back with Ødegaard and Sander Berge tinkering.
A brilliant chance for an equaliser arrived late in the game but a wide-open Alexander Sørloth curled his shot off target, putting his head in his hands.
Spain would then make them pay for the miss, as Joselu’s header beat Nyland for his first goal on his debut before secuing a brace minutes later.
The result means Spain are level with Scotland at the top of Group A. Norway are tied for last with Cyprus.
Scorer: Kramarić 28′; Broadhead 90+3′
The first game in the post-Gareth Bale era was a night to remember for Wales after a 1-1 draw against Croatia in their opening qualifier.
It was fairly tense opening half with the hosts controlling the pitch, only to be denied an opener on two occasions with Luka Modrić and Ivan Perišić particularly upset.
But that would all be put in the past when Andrej Kramarić’s curling strike from outside the box beat goalkeeper Danny Ward for 1-0.
The goal pulls the Hoffenheim ace level with Modrić on Croatia’s scoring charts (23 – fifth overall).
Coming out into the second half the chances were again few and far between. Wales’ new era was left looking for answers.
5 - Of Wales' last seven goals in all competitions, five have come in the final 10 minutes of the match, with three of those (including tonight's) coming in the 90th minute. Belated.
Kieffer Moore and Aaron Ramsey couldn’t offer up any ideas for an equaliser despite their experience. Daniel James and Neco Williams, meanwhile, saw efforts fall short.
Croatia will be upset they didn’t find the net again, as Perišić and Mateo Kovacic continued to hunt for another goal but the end product was never of value. The Spurs ace, however, did hit the post.
And with seconds remaining, substitute Nathan Broadhead tapped home at the far post to see the points shared with their only effort on arget.
Scorer: McGinn 21′, McTominay 87′, 90+3′
It was dominance from the hosts in the first half with 70% possession of the ball but the likes of Andy Robertson, Aaron Hickey and Stuart Armstrong failed to truly make an impact.
Scotland only had five shots in the first half until a little bit of luck went their way for the opener.
Robertson picked up the ball on the wing and his deflected cross fell just in front of John McGinn who stabbed home for his 16th international goal.
Coming out into the second half, the hosts tried to ramp up the attack looking to pile on the goals through Armstrong and Robertson, yet true chances again were scarce.
5 - Scott McTominay is just the fifth player to score a brace for Scotland after coming on as a substitute, after David Hopkin (1997), Billy Dodds (1998), Chris Burke (2006) and Lyndon Dykes (2022). Advantage.
Cyprus had two threatening attacks with roughly 15 minutes to go but interventions from Kieran Tierney and Ryan Porteous prevented potential equalisers.
In the final moments it continued to be a scrappy affair and super-sub Scott McTominay eased any pressure with two goals, the first of which was an acrobatic effort from a tight angle.
The visitors also finished the game with 10-men as Nicholas Ioannou was shown a second yellow in the 95th minute.
In Group A alongside Spain and Norway, Scotland will be happy to have scored more than just the first-half opener considering goal differential could be key later on. They sit tied at the top with Spain.