Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Morata both scored penalties as Spain got the better of Sweden on Monday, while the Republic of Ireland and Poland continued their strong starts in qualifying for Euro 2020.
Three-time European champions Spain ran out 3-0 winners in their Group F encounter with the Swedes at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, recovering from the early frustration of seeing a Rodrigo Moreno effort wrongly disallowed for offside.
They won a penalty just after the hour when Sebastian Larsson blocked a Marco Asensio cross with his arm, and captain Ramos converted the spot-kick. It was the Real Madrid defender’s 20th goal for his country, his seventh in his last eight matches.
Morata, who had come on as a second-half subtitute, won another penalty late on when he was brought down in the box by Filip Helander, and he duly netted from 12 yards too.
Real Sociedad striker Mikel Oyarzabal, also on from the bench, wrapped up the win with three minutes left.
The result means Luis Enrique’s side have the maximum 12 points from four matches and are five points ahead of Sweden and Romania at the top of the six-team section. The top two teams in each group qualify for the finals.
“These matches are more difficult than the result makes them look,” Morata told Spanish media. “We played well, defended well and we are very happy.”
Romania, who host Spain next in September, eased to a 4-0 win in Malta. Norway, whose only appearance at the Euros so far came in 2000, got their first win of the campaign as they beat the Faroe Islands 2-0 away thanks to a brace from US-born forward Bjorn Johnsen.
– Irish five clear –
Ireland are top of Group D with 10 points from four games after again doing the minimum to get the better of minnows Gibraltar.
Mick McCarthy’s team won 1-0 on the rock in March and won 2-0 against the same opponents this time.
They went ahead in Dublin when David McGoldrick’s wayward shot went in thanks to a wicked deflection off Joseph Chipolina. Robbie Brady then wrapped up the victory at the death.
“If the remit for me was to get 10 points, which I’m sure it was, that job’s done,” McCarthy told Sky Sports.
Ireland are five points ahead of Denmark, with whom they drew in Copenhagen at the weekend.
However, the Danes have a game in hand and romped to a 5-1 win over Georgia on Monday, with Kasper Dolberg of Ajax scoring twice. Tottenham Hotspur star Christian Eriksen scored a penalty, while Yussuf Poulsen and Martin Braithwaite also netted.
Poland have maximum points after four games in Group G, with hotshots Krzysztof Piatek and Robert Lewandowski both on target in a 4-0 defeat of Israel in Warsaw.
Austria boosted their chances of qualifying as West Ham United’s Marko Arnautovic bagged a brace in a 4-1 victory in North Macedonia, while Slovenia romped to a 5-0 win in Latvia.
– First win for Kosovo –
The Czech Republic joined England on six points at the top of Group A thanks to a 3-0 defeat of Montenegro, although they have now played a game more than Gareth Southgate’s side.
In the same group, Kosovo registered their first win in qualifying for a Euro or a World Cup, coming from behind to beat Bulgaria 3-2 in Sofia thanks to Elbasan Rashani’s injury-time strike.
Ukraine are six points clear at the top of Group B after beating Luxembourg 1-0, while Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice and new Real Madrid signing Luka Jovic got one goal as Serbia defeated Lithuania 4-1.
Newly crowned UEFA Nations League winners, and reigning European champions, Portugal will resume their qualifying campaign in Serbia in September sitting eight points behind Ukraine.