It was yet another successful few nights for the host nations in the third round of qualifiers for the 2016 European Championship.
England made it three wins from three, despite a somewhat stuttering display in front of goal in Tallin on Sunday evening. Although expected to be a much sterner test than San Marino, England’s game against Estonia was still expected to be an easy win for Roy Hodgson’s contingent.
However, it was the hosts who started brightly when Sergei Zenjov crashed the ball into Joe Hart’s side netting. Hodgson made a bold move by resting Raheem Sterling for Adam Lallana, who made a solid contribution, but the important talking point after the game was the impressive link-up play between Jack Wilshere and Wayne Rooney. However, the England striker was far from his deadly self in Tallinn, once again missing some good chances before Estonia’s skipper Ragnar Kavan was given his marching orders just after half-time for a second bookable offence.
The only goal of the game came with just over 17 minutes remaining when Rooney accurately whipped the ball over the Estonia wall from a free-kick, giving the England fans a sense of relief and ensuring that England remain unbeaten since Uruguay effectively knocked them out of the World Cup back in June.
Republic of Ireland travelled to Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday night, in what is likely to be their most difficult match-up in Group D. Martin O’Niell’s side were in decent form, winning their previous and therefore first two games in the group – however, they were undone by a touch of magic from Toni Kroos with 20 minutes to go.
Lowe made only two changes to the side that lost to Poland on Saturday, with Julian Draxler and Mathias Ginter being drafted in, but it was not enough to secure the victory.
With seconds remaining, Hoolahan’s hopeful deep cross was hooked back across goal by Hendrick to John O’Shea, who, on his 100th cap, was at hand to stab the ball past the outstretched Neuer. The point puts O’Shea and co. in second place, with only a goal separating them and leaders Poland.
Elsewhere in the Group, Scotland hosted Poland, who were in a confident mood after beating World Champions Germany on the weekend. Midfield maestro Krzystof Maczynski opened the scoring on eleven minutes, while Shaun Maloney deservedly equalised seven minutes later. Steven Naismith was on hand to slot home near the hour mark to send the travelling Scots into raptures.
However, with 15 minutes to go Ajax striker Arkadiusz Milik finished off a superb Poland move to secure the point – which was probably, much to Scotland’s credit, a fair result.
Northern Ireland also gained points in their third game of the group with an impressive 2-0 victory in Greece on Tuesday night. Goals from Jamie Ward and Man of the Match Kyle Lafferty kept them top of Group F.
In Group E, England’s qualifying rivals Switzerland put their bid back on track by demolishing San Marino 4-0, thanks to goals from Shaqiri, Dzemaili and a double from Haris Seferovic. England’s closest threats right now, however, are Lithuania and Slovenia, who played on Sunday, which resulted in a win for the latter thanks to two goals from Novakovic.
A last minute goal from Cristiano Ronaldo ensured Portugal went away with all three points against Denmark at the Parken Stadium.
In Group A on Monday night, Holland continues their dismal run of form with a 2-0 loss in Iceland. Guus Hiddink will have some questions to answer in their latest embarrassment, which leaves them third and six points off the pace.
Wales also enjoyed success on Monday by overcoming a stubborn Cyprus side which leaves them top of Group B. Although, they have played a game more than Belgium and Israel. Goals from Robson-Kanu and Cotterill before half-time saw off the Mediterraneans.
Italy continued to scrape together wins in Group H when they travelled to Malta. A solitary goal from debutant Graziano Pelle capped off what proved to be another uninspiring display from Antonio Conte’s team.
On Sunday, Spain avoided any blushes by trouncing Luxembourg 4-0. Goals from David Silva, Paco Alcacer and Bernat were added to by a first international goal for Chelsea star Diego Costa.
Ukraine 1-0 Macedonia
Belarus 1-3 Slovakia
Luxembourg 0-4 Spain
Estonia 0-1 England
Lithuania 0-2 Slovenia
Austria 1-0 Montenegro
Russia 1-1 Moldova
Sweden 2-0 Liechtenstein
Kazakhstan 2-4 Czech Republic
Iceland 2-0 Holland
Latvia 1-1 Turkey
Andorra 1-4 Israel
Bosnia 1-1 Belgium
Wales 2-1 Cyprus
Croatia 6-0 Azerbaijan
Malta 0-1 Italy
Norway 2-1 Bulgaria
Germany 1-1 Republic of Ireland
Gibraltar 0-3 Georgia
Poland 2-2 Scotland
San Marion 0-4 Switzerland
Faroe Islands 0-1 Hungary
Finland 0-2 Romania
Greece 0-2 Northern Ireland
Denmark 0-1 Portugal