Sweden recovered from a goal in hand Spain their first World Cup qualifying loss in 28 years with a surprising 2-1 victory on Thursday.
Alexander Isak and Viktor Claesson produced sumptuous spikes to nullify Carlos Soler’s opening goal for the Euro 2020 semifinalists and place Sweden atop Group B.
“It’s a shame, we went for the win, and probably in our best period of the game they scored their second goal,” Spain captain Sergio Busquets said. “The group is much more complicated now and we don’t have things in our hands. We were going well, but maybe we lacked a bit of luck, but we have to continue, there are still several games left, although now the scenario is not the best ”.
Vedat Muriqi resolved the other match in Group B, as Kosovo defeated Georgia.
Euro 2020 Champions Italy were undefeated in 35 games to equal the European record set by Spain, but were disappointed in the end, drawing 1-1 with Bulgaria.
In his first match since winning the European Championship in July, Federico Chiesa wasted no time putting Italy ahead, scoring a good finish with 16 minutes left. However, Atanas Iliev scored the tying goal five minutes before half-time, the first goal Italy has conceded in their World Cup qualifying campaign to date.
In the second half there was one-way traffic, as the locals went out in search of a winner but, apart from Ciro Immobile’s effort from a tight angle that cleared the line, Roberto Mancini’s team did not seem to score again.
Shayne Lavery and Daniel Ballard scored their first international goals as From North Ireland brought their qualifying campaign to life with a resounding 4-1 win over Lithuania.
Lavery’s goal in his first competitive start was a decisive third, much needed after a Bailey Peacock-Farrell penalty save was needed to prevent a much-changed Northern Ireland team from throwing a 2-0 lead in a chaotic start of the second half. .
Moments after Conor Washington’s penalty added to Ballard’s shot in the first half, the visitors failed to cope with a corner kick and were punished with a superb shot by Rolandas Baravykas.
It almost got worse after Paddy McNair fouled Justas Lasickas following a Craig Cathcart error, but was denied entry by Hearts winger Arvydas Novikovas by Peacock-Farrell.
In five minutes he was 3-1 and indeed it was all over when Lavery, full of confidence after starting his career at Blackpool with four goals in seven, adjusted his feet to convert a Jordan Thompson cross from close range. And there was time for McNair to add a quarter from the spot after Edgaras Utkus stormed Steven Davis into the area.
New Germany Coach Hansi Flick began his reign with a winning start when Timo Werner and Leroy Sané scored in a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein, but once again the Germans fought facing the goal.
In other parts of the group, Romania won 2-0 in Iceland and North Macedonia and Armenia played a 0-0 draw.
Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium overcame an early scare to smash Estonia 5-2 away on Thursday and consolidate their position at the top of Group E.
Lukaku extended his goalscoring record to 66 goals in his 99th appearance for his country after Belgium was shocked when Estonian captain Matthias Kait stole the ball in midfield and unleashed a powerful shot to put the home side by ahead in the second minute.
But the top-ranked team in FIFA fought back to reach 10 points in four group stage matches, while Estonia is last after losing its first three matches. Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel and substitute Thomas Foket also scored for Belgium, while Erik Sorga took some consolation for the hosts.
The game in the group saw Czech Republic scrape past Belarus 1-0.
Robert Lewandowski directed Poland to an emphatic 4-1 victory over Albania when Paulo Sousa’s team climbed to second place in Group I, behind England who won 4-0 in Hungary.
Talisman captain Lewandowski opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a header from close range, but Albania leveled 13 minutes later when a long pass from Klaus Gjasula found striker Sokol Cikalleshi and put the ball into Wojciech Szczesny.
Poland regained the lead against the game’s streak just before halftime thanks to a header from New England Revolution forward Adam Buksa, who scored on his debut. Nine minutes into the second half, Grzegorz Krychowiak made a pass from Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker dribbled past three Albanian players. Just before the final whistle, Karol Linetty fired the ball off the crossbar to secure a resounding victory for Poland.
Elsewhere, Andorra defeated Saint Marine 2-0 at home.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism