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Spain crush Liechtenstein, Iceland given World Cup hope

  • Published at 10:00 am September 6th, 2017
Spain crush Liechtenstein, Iceland given World Cup hope
Spain hammered Liechtenstein 8-0 as Alvaro Morata and Iago Aspas both struck twice to maintain their country's lead over Italy at the top of World Cup qualifying Group G on Tuesday. The victory in Vaduz took Spain to 22 points from eight games, three ahead of the Italians who beat Israel 1-0 in Reggio Emilia thanks to Ciro Immobile's second-half strike. The winners of the nine European groups qualify directly for Russia while the best eight of the second-placed teams take part in two-leg playoffs for four more places. Julen Lopetegui's Spain side scored three goals in the first 16 minutes to ensure the rest of the game was a formality against the overwhelmed hosts. Aleksandar Kolarov's second half strike put Serbia on the verge of World Cup qualification and delivered a hammer blow to Group D rivals Ireland's chances in a 1-0 victory at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Tuesday. Serbia, who like both Ireland and Wales went into the game with an unbeaten record, had the better early chances and deservedly took the lead on 55 minutes when Kolarov hammered a shot in off the bar to silence the home crowd. They had to play the final quarter with 10 men after Nikola Maksimovic was sent off for a professional foul, and survived a justifiable penalty claim and a near miss from Daryl Murphy to leave Ireland's hopes of a playoff place hanging by a thread. Iceland gave their hopes of an unlikely World Cup finals appearance a huge boost on Tuesday when two goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson, the first scored controversially, gave them a 2-0 win over Ukraine in a key qualifier. The win meant Iceland, who delighted the sports world by reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 last year, went level on 16 points with Croatia at the top of Group I. Croatia, beaten 1-0 by Turkey, lead on goal difference. Iceland went ahead two minutes after halftime, although Ukraine were deeply unhappy about the goal. Emil Hallfredsson whipped in a low cross from the left, Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov got to it but dropped it as an Iceland player collided with him, and the ball ran to Sigurdsson to score into an empty net. There were no questions about the second goal, however. When the ball was fed in from the right, Hallfredsson dummied and Jon Bodvarsson laid the ball off to Sigurdsson, who fired past Pyatov from the edge of the area. Italy recovered from Saturday's mauling by Spain to beat Israel 1-0 in their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, although it was far from plain sailing as they were jeered by the home crowd at halftime. Forward Ciro Immobile came to Italy's rescue early in the second half when he headed the only goal in the Group G game after a sluggish first-half performance saw the four-times world champions roundly booed. Italy, playing in front of a two-thirds full stadium in Reggio Emilia, stayed second with 13 points and on course for a place in the European playoff round, a nerve-wracking prospect which already has the Italian public and media on edge. A wasteful Wales scored two late goals to beat Moldova 2-0 in their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday as a diving header by Hal Robson-Kanu and a deflected Aaron Ramsey strike spared their blushes against Group D's bottom side. With group rivals Ireland slumping to a 1-0 defeat at home to Serbia, the result lifted Wales into second place ahead of the Irish, with the two sides set to meet in their final qualifying game in Cardiff in October. Though Moldova were stubborn in defence, Wales did not lack chances. They managed to waste every opportunity they had in the opening 45 minutes, however, with Gareth Bale, Ramsey and Robson-Kanu all spurning chances to break the deadlock. RESULTS Group D Republic of Ireland 0 Serbia 1 (Kolarov 55) Moldova 0 Wales 2 (Robson-Kanu 80, Ramsey 90+3) Austria 1 (Schaub 44) Georgia 1 (Gvilia 8) Group G Italy 1 (Immobile 53) Israel 0 Liechtenstein 0 Spain 8 (Ramos 3, Morata 15, 54, Isco 16, Silva 39, Aspas 51, 63, Goppel 89-og) Macedonia 1 (Trajkovski 78-pen) Albania 1 (Roshi 52) Group I Kosovo 0 Finland 1 (Pukki 83) Iceland 2 (G. Sigurdsson 47, 66) Ukraine 0 Turkey 1 (Tosun 75) Croatia 0
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