World News

World Cup qualifiers roundup: England smash San Marino, Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes comeback & more

Jude Summerfield
Ross Jackson
Mar 25, 2021, 10:30 PM GMT
Watkins scored his first international goal
Watkins scored his first international goal | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images
facebooktwitterreddit

We all love the international break really, right? C'mon, who doesn't love a bit of England vs San Marino?

That Wembley encounter wasn't the only affair of Thursday night, however. Plenty of the big guns were in action, while a few more of the home nations got their World Cup qualifying campaigns underway.

Here's your roundup for all of Thursday night's action.

England 5-0 San Marino

England made a decent start to their campaign as a rotated XI dismissed San Marino for an easy 5-0 win.

James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins both scored their first goals for the Three Lions, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored twice and Raheem Sterling got his 14th international strike.

You can find Ross Jackson's player ratings from the fixture here.

Germany 3-0 Iceland

Germany made light work of Iceland in a 3-0 victory, but wrote headlines before kick off as they followed Norway's example and protested Qatar's human rights record.

Joachim Low's side lined up in t-shirts spelling out 'human rights' in a stand against Qatar's alleged violations of migrants.

Leon Goretzka, Kai Havertz and Ilkay Gundogan all scored in an otherwise routine win. Want more player ratings? Here you are, courtesy of Max Parsons.

Scotland 2-2 Austria

Steve Clarke’s Scotland side twice came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw with Austria at Hampden Park.

The hosts were forced to endure large spells without the ball in the opening 45 minutes, though they had arguably the better of the chances as Ryan Christie was twice denied by Alexander Schlager.

The visitors took the lead early in the second half, with David Marshall palming Florian Grillitsch’s effort back into the danger zone and Sasa Kalajdzic applying the finish.

Grant Hanley’s powerful header restored parity for Clarke’s side, but Kalajdzic produced an even better header ten minutes from time to restore Austria’s lead.

With an opening game defeat looming, Aston Villa man John McGinn rescued his side a point with an unbelievable overhead-kick in the 85th minute.

Italy 2-0 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland suffered defeat in the first outing of their qualifying campaign as they went down 2-0 to Italy at the Ennio Tardini Stadium.

After a solid start to the game, the visitors had the wind taken out of their sails as Italy hit the front. Alessandro Florenzi picked out Domenico Berardi on the right-hand side and the Sassuolo man cut infield before smashing the ball high into the net to give the home side the lead.

Ian Baraclough’s men were given a mountain to climb on the stroke of half-time as Lazio hitman Ciro Immobile fired past Bailey Peacock-Farrell to make the score 2-0. The youngster will be disappointed to have been beaten at his front post but Immobile’s strike just proved too hot to handle.

Northern Ireland pushed to find a way back into the game but were unable to break down a resilient Italy backline as they came away empty-handed.

Spain 1-1 Greece

Alvaro Morata's brilliant individual goal wasn't enough to haul Spain to victory in their opener with Greece.

Morata brought down Koke's cross marvellously before volleying in at the near post, but second-half substitute Inigo Martinez conceded a penalty minutes after his introduction, allowing Anastasios Bakasetas to equalise.

You can find the player ratings for that game here.

Sweden 1-0 Georgia

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a hand in the only goal of the game as Sweden kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Georgia.

The Milan forward led the line for his side in his first international appearance since 2016 and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. After controlling the ball on his chest in the area, the veteran frontman showed the presence of mind to hook the ball behind him and find Viktor Claesson, with the midfielder coolly slotting home the opener.

The visitors pushed for an equaliser but it wasn’t to be as Ibrahimovic made a triumphant return to the international scene

Thursday's results in full

Group B

Sweden 1-0 Georgia
Spain 1-1 Greece

Group C

Bulgaria 1-3 Switzerland
Italy 2-0 Northern Ireland

Group F

Israel 0-2 Denmark
Scotland 2-2 Austria
Moldova 1-1 Faroe Islands

Group I

Hungary 3-3 Poland
England 5-0 San Marino
Andorra 0-1 Albania

Group J

Liechtenstein 0-1 Armenia
Germany 3-0 Iceland
Romania 3-2 North Macedonia

facebooktwitterreddit