The story appears on

Page A7

September 5, 2015

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Sports » Soccer

Iceland, Wales nearly qualify

UNSUNG Iceland and Wales have took big steps toward qualifying for the European Championships, and they don’t intend to take the long road to the expanded 24-team tournament just because there are more ways to qualify.

Iceland stunned 10-man Netherlands 1-0 in Amsterdam on Thursday and leads Group A, while Gareth Bale scored a late goal for Wales in a 1-0 victory in Cyprus to give the British squad a three-point lead over Belgium atop Group B.

Iceland has never qualified for a major tournament. Beating Israel on Sunday will secure Wales’ first trip to a tournament since the 1958 World Cup.

“We know what we have to do,” Bale said. “We are a strong team, we are together. We know what our capabilities are. We have earned the right to be in this position.”

Meanwhile, Graziano Pelle saved Italy from embarrassment against Malta again, securing a 1-0 win against the 160th-ranked opponent to move the Azzurri in command of Group H. Pelle also scored in a 1-0 win at Malta in October.

“That’s my job — to score,” he said. “It’s never easy. Football is very balanced these days.”

The top two finishers from the nine groups qualify automatically for next year’s tournament in France. The best third-placed team also qualifies automatically, and eight more teams can qualify through a playoff.

Arjen Robben’s first match as Netherlands captain was over in less than half an hour as he limped off the Amsterdam Arena pitch. Danny Blind’s debut as national coach went from bad to worse in the 33rd minute when referee Milorad Mazic showed defender Bruno Martins Indi a direct red card for making a striking movement with his arm as he tumbled to the ground in a tackle with Kolbeinn Sigthhorsson.

Gylfi Sigurdsson converted a 51st-minute penalty for Iceland’s only goal after Gregory van der Wiel brought down Birkir Bjarnason.

In other qualifiers, the Czech Republic came from behind to beat Kazakhstan 2-1 to stay second, and Latvia drew 1-1 with Turkey.

In Group B, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard gave Belgium a 3-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina. With three games remaining, Israel stayed two points further back after routing Andorra 4-0. In Group H, Croatia was held to a 0-0 draw in Azerebaijan and Norway won 1-0 at Bulgaria.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend