Euro qualifiers roundup

2014-10-11 08:59
Giorgio Chiellini (Supplied)
Giorgio Chiellini (Supplied)

Rome -  Italy remained perfect without Mario Balotelli. The Netherlands, meanwhile, still appears to be in a post-World Cup slump.

Giorgio Chiellini accounted for all three goals in Italy's 2-1 win over Azerbaijan in European Championship qualifying Friday and World Cup semifinalist Netherlands labored to a surprisingly hard-earned 3-1 victory over 10-man Kazakhstan.

Also, World Cup quarterfinalist Belgium held target practice for a 6-0 victory over tiny Andorra.

Elsewhere, Croatia won 1-0 at Bulgaria and is level with Italy atop Group H.

The Czech Republic beat Turkey 2-1 in Istanbul and Iceland won 3-0 in Latvia to remain atop Group A.

Wales took the Group B lead by one point over Cyprus, Israel and Belgium after holding Bosnia-Herzegovina to a 0-0 draw in Cardiff.

The top two finishers from the nine groups qualify automatically. The best third-placed team also qualifies automatically, and the other eight can qualify through a playoff.

The second batch of Euro 2016 qualifiers continues through Tuesday.


Defender Renat Abdulin gave 127th-ranked Kazakhstan a shock lead at the Amsterdam Arena with a powerful 17th-minute header from a poorly-defended corner and the Netherlands had an anxious wait until the 62nd minute when substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar leveled.

A deflected 82nd-minute shot by Ibrahim Afellay, who started his first international in nearly two years, put the Dutch ahead before Robin van Persie's penalty in the last minute of regulation time secured the three points and coach Guus Hiddink's first win in three matches since taking over from Louis van Gaal after the World Cup.

"In the end, it was a good result," said Van Persie.

In Istanbul, Umut Bulut gave Turkey the lead in the eighth minute but defender Tomas Sivok leveled seven minutes later when he headed in a corner. Borek Dockal gave the Czechs victory with a neat finish just before the hour mark.

Latvia held Iceland goalless for more than an hour before Gylfi Sigurdsson opened the scoring in the 66th and Aron Gunnarsson and substitute Rurik Gislason completed the comfortable victory.


Group B is wide open after Friday's matches with Wales taking the lead with four points from two games after a tough goalless draw at home against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Belgium and Israel both opened their campaign with victories to join Cyprus on three points.

Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens scored two goals each for Belgium and Divock Origi and Nacer Chadli added the rest to give the victory a special World Cup flavor since most of the scorers were instrumental in Brazil.

"We have had a good start and we are on our way," Origi said before the Red Devils departed for Bosnia for their second game on Monday.

Israel also had a successful start, beating Cyprus in Nicosia 2-1 with goals from Omer Damari and Tal Ben Haim.


With Balotelli struggling to find his form since transferring to Liverpool, failing to score in five English Premier League appearances, new Italy coach Antonio left him off the squad again.

While Ciro Immobile and Simone Zaza provided the scoring last month, it was all Chiellini this time.

In Palermo, Azerbaijan defended with 10 men and Italy had trouble creating opportunities until Chiellini took advantage of an error by the goalkeeper to give the Azzurri the lead in the 44th.

Chiellini then scored into his own net in the 76th as he attempted to defend a corner kick but he made up for his error by heading in again in the 82nd.

"In good and bad I did it all," said Chiellini, the victim of Luis Suarez's bite at the World Cup. "But the important thing is we came out on top."

In Bulgaria, Nikolay Bodurov scored an own goal for Croatia in the 36th.

Norway, which won 3-0 at Malta, got two goals from Blackburn forward Joshua King, who also set up the opening score from Mats Moller Daehli.

Italy beat Norway in its opening qualifier and was also a winner over the Netherlands in a friendly to open Conte's tenure.

Read more on:    euro 2016  |  soccer

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