Euro 2020 Qualifiers: Gareth Bale rescues a point for Wales in 1-1 draw against Croatia

Press Association Sport 07:30 14/10/2019
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Bale turns saviour for Wales at Cardiff.

Gareth Bale was Wales’ saviour again as Ryan Giggs’ side kept alive their Euro 2020 qualifying hopes with a 1-1 draw against Croatia in Cardiff.

Bale struck in first-half stoppage time – his 33rd goal extending his own Wales record – to cancel out Nikola Vlasic’s ninth-minute strike for the World Cup finalists.

The draw leaves Wales’ qualifying destiny out of their own hands heading into the final two rounds of games next month.

But wins away to Azerbaijan and at home to Hungary would be enough for a top-two spot, as long as Slovakia do not collect more than four points from their last two games.

Slovakia’s next game is in Croatia, and the Group E leaders will have plenty to play for as they have not booked their ticket to next summer’s European Championship.

Wales were dealt a pre-match blow with Aaron Ramsey failing to recover from a groin problem.

It was the latest injury setback for Ramsey, who has missed the entire Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, and it is now 11 months since the Juventus midfielder last represented his country.

So Wales manager Giggs named an unchanged side, with Ethan Ampadu and Jonny Williams shaking off knocks picked up in Slovakia on Thursday.

That 1-1 draw was a decent outcome, but there was bad news before kick-off as Hungary beat Azerbaijan to move into second place and open up a five-point gap on Wales.

Croatia quickly settled into their passing rhythm with Josip Brekalo wildly firing wide.

Wales wanted a penalty when Daniel James was barged to the floor by Dejan Lovren but Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers was not interested, deeming it a fair shoulder-to-shoulder challenge.

Croatia were ahead within seconds as Brekalo broke away from Tom Lockyer and found Bruno Petkovic.

The ball was fed to Vlasic who beat Wayne Hennessey with a low shot which went in off a post.

Croatia nearly doubled their lead when Petkovic picked out Ivan Perisic with a superb lofted pass and Hennessey was awake to turn his header around a post.

James was on the end of a heavy challenge from Domagoj Vida, which earned the Croatia defender a yellow card and saw a stretcher called for the Manchester United winger.

But James eventually returned to his feet and was able to continue, although Wales were making little progress as the visitors dictated the tempo.

Bale shot straight at Dominik Livakovic and fired a free-kick straight into the Croatia wall, but Wales’ captain was dropping so deep to get on the ball that he was sometimes the wrong side of the halfway line.

Croatia were content to keep the ball and frustrate Wales, but their plan was rocked in the third minute of first-half stoppage time.

Ben Davies – who was winning his 50th cap – surged forward from his left-back station and reclaimed the ball with Croatia crying foul on Mateo Kovacic.

But the referee was unmoved and Davies’ perfectly weighted pass caught out Lovren for Bale to find the bottom corner of Livakovic’s net with ease.

Kovacic needed treatment after the goal and did not reappear for the second half, and Croatia showed their resentment straight after the restart.

Ampadu was the victim of an awful Petkovic aerial challenge, with the striker maybe fortunate to see a yellow rather than a red card.

The teenager took no further part in proceedings with Joe Morrell sent on to replace him.

Croatia escaped when James broke his shackles to test Livakovic, with the goalkeeper holding on at the second attempt as Moore sniffed a rebound.

Joe Allen picked up a booking in the closing moments to rule him out of the Azerbaijan qualifier, but Wales remain in the qualification hunt.

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10-man Germany sail past Estonia to keep Euro 2020 qualification on track

Press Association Sport 07:00 14/10/2019
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Ilkay Gundogan bagged a brace.

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan scored twice as 10-man Germany won 3-0 in Estonia to remain on course for Euro 2020 qualification.

Juventus midfielder Emre Can was sent off after just 14 minutes of the Group C match in Tallinn for a professional foul.

However, Joachim Low’s injury-depleted squad regrouped and took the lead early in the second half through Gundogan’s angled drive.

The Manchester City midfielder quickly added a second, with substitute Timo Werner knocking in a third as Germany moved level on points with leaders Holland and three clear of Northern Ireland.

Veteran goalkeeper Manuel Neuer replaced Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to captain Germany, while Gundogan and Marco Reus were the other changes from the 2-2 draw against Argentina.

In-form Bayern Munich winger Serge Gnabry had to be content with a place on the bench.

Germany made a bright start, with Can just unable to get on the end of a teasing cross from Gundogan inside the Estonia penalty area.

The Juventus midfielder was, though, soon dismissed.

After allowing the ball to run across him as he turned on the edge of the penalty area, Can made a rash sliding challenge to trip Frank Liivak as the Estonia forward looked to get clear on goal.

Bulgarian referee Georgi Kabakov immediately reached for the red card, much to the dismay of the former Liverpool man.

Estonia – thrashed 8-0 in Mainz just four months ago – almost took full advantage, as defender Joonas Tamm put the ball over at the back post following a corner.

Germany, though, soon regrouped and came close to breaking the deadlock themselves in the 24th minute.

Freiburg forward Luca Waldschmidt drove at the Estonia defence before cutting inside to drill a left-foot effort towards the bottom corner, which was pushed wide by goalkeeper Sergei Lepmets.

Estonia captain Konstantin Vassiljev failed to connect properly with an acrobatic attempt to meet a ball in from the right, with Neuer gathering the tame shot.

Reus was then unfortunate not to open the scoring five minutes before half-time when his 20-yard free-kick clattered off the crossbar.

However, Germany took the lead soon after the restart.

In the 51st minute, Gundogan latched onto a deflected clearance as the ball dropped across the edge of the penalty area to drill a fierce angled shot into the bottom left corner.

Before Estonia could regroup, they fell further behind just five minutes later.

Reus was the provider with a clever backheel inside the penalty area, which saw the ball run for Gundogan to plant another first-time effort past the keeper, albeit with a slight deflection.

In the 71st minute, Werner added a third not long after coming on.

The RB Leipzig frontman cut back inside to score from close range after being picked out by a sweeping cross-field pass by Gundogan.

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WATCH: Germany squad having fun in training in Tallinn

Sport360 staff 17:56 13/10/2019
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Germany face Estonia in their Euro 2020 qualifier with a three-way tie at the top of Group C.

Joachim Low’s men, together with Netherlands and Northern Ireland, all have 12 points with three games remaining.

The top two nations will qualify automatically for next summer’s tournament and both the Germans and the Dutch have a game in hand over third-placed Northern Ireland.

The Germans will be favourite for victory in Tallinn on Sunday against a side that they beat 8-0 in the reverse fixture in June.










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