Spain, Poland, Ukraine, Ireland take strides
Spain and Poland continued perfect starts to qualifying as Ukraine and the Republic of Ireland also stretched group leads.
Czech Republic 3-0 Montenegro
The Czechs made it back-to-back home wins in the group with a dominant display against winless Montenegro. Pavel Kadeřábek’s deep cross was expertly volleyed in by Jakub Jankto in the first half, with Patrik Schick’s trickery and cross causing Boris Kopitović to deflect past his own goalkeeper just after the interval. Schick’s penalty then ensured his side moved level on points with group leaders England, who have a game in hand.
Bulgaria 2-3 Kosovo
Elbasan Rashani headed a goal deep in added time to give Kosovo their first win in any qualifier. Kosovo struck first via Milot Rashica, but, just before half-time, Ivelin Popov smashed in a shot from outside the box. Kristian Dimitrov, who only made his Bulgaria debut on Friday, came off the bench at the break and headed his first international goal within ten minutes, only for Vedat Muriqi to respond in kind, before substitute Rashani provided the late finish to move Kosovo to five points and 14 games unbeaten.
Ukraine 1-0 Luxembourg
Ukraine followed up their resounding victory against Serbia with a narrow success against a tenacious Luxembourg side. Ruslan Malinovskyi’s teasing sixth-minute cross was headed in by Roman Yaremchuk, and that effort proved sufficient to lift Andriy Shevchenko’s men six points clear at the summit.
Serbia 4-1 Lithuania
Serbia clinched their first victory in the section in some style, racing away with three goals in the space of 16 first-half minutes. Aleksandar Mitrović buried the first two before Luka Jović’s sublime left-footed effort, and although Arvydas Novikovas reduced the deficit from the spot, Serbia substitute Adem Ljajić had the final say, moving his side level with Luxembourg in second.
Republic of Ireland 2-0 Gibraltar
Ireland earned a second narrow victory against Gibraltar in this group to extend their lead to five points. Joseph Chipolina’s own goal was all that separated the sides until added time, when Robbie Brady headed in James McClean’s cross to ease Irish anxiety.
Denmark 5-1 Georgia
Denmark posted a first win at the third attempt in Group D – and helped themselves to five goals in the process as they moved into second place, five points behind Ireland. Kasper Dolberg lit the way and a Christian Eriksen spot kick restored their lead after Saba Lobzhanidze had levelled on the break, with Dolberg, Yussuf Poulsen and Martin Braithwaite giving the home crowd plenty to cheer in the last half an hour.
Spain 3-0 Sweden
Spain made it four wins out of four with victory at the Santiago Bernabéu, despite an inspired display from Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen. Sergio Ramos and Álvaro Morata converted second-half penalties before substitute Mikel Oyarzabal scored his first for his country with a sumptuous late strike.
Malta 0-4 Romania
Romania moved level with Sweden on seven points and took the lead early in Malta through George Pușcaș. Pușcaș then hit the woodwork and notched his second, not long before Alexandru Chipciu looped an effort in from outside the box to make it 3-0 at the break. Chipciu was sent off late on, but Dennis Man made it four in the 91st minute.
Faroe Islands 0-2 Norway
A pair of Bjorn Johnsen headers kept up Norway’s perfect record against the Faroes – and, more crucially, gave them a first win of the campaign. The AZ Alkmaar striker nodded in from an Ole Selnæs cross shortly after the restart and grabbed his double from Omar Elabdellaoui’s right-wing delivery, leaving Norway within two points of Sweden and Romania.
Poland 4-0 Israel
Poland made it four wins from four with a ruthless performance to open up a five-point gap over previously-unbeaten Israel. Krzysztof Piątek struck at the near post to give them the lead on 35 minutes, but they truly came into their own after the interval, Robert Lewandowski burying a penalty on the night he equalled Jakub Błaszczykowski’s record of 106 Poland caps, before Kamil Grosicki and substitute Damian Kądzior also pounced.
North Macedonia 1-4 Austria
Austria came from behind to earn an impressive win and leapfrog their hosts into third. Martin Hinteregger headed past his own keeper, but the contest turned when Valentino Lazaro volleyed in Konrad Laimer’s 39th-minute cross. The visitors pulled away after the break, Marko Arnautović firing in a penalty and heading the third before another counterattack culminated in an Egzon Bejtulai own goal.
Latvia 0-5 Slovenia
Slovenia scored five in a competitive away match for the first time, Domen Črnigoj netting his first international goals alongside a Josip Iličić double to leave the home side four behind at half-time. Miha Zajc’s fifth came straight after the break as Slovenia moved to within two points of second-placed Israel.