World Cup qualifying: Wednesday’s scores and stats. After a long wait, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifiers finally kicked-off in the UEFA and Concacaf zones on Wednesday. There were some surprising scorelines in Europe, with France held 1-1 at home by Ukraine, Croatia losing to Slovenia and Turkey outgunning three-time World Cup runners-up the Netherlands. There were also important wins for Serbia and Belgium.
FIFA.com summarises all the results, action and standout statistics. Live coverage of Qatar 2022 qualifiers will resume on Thursday with a lone AFC match and more action from the UEFA and Concacaf regions.
- FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying resumed on Wednesday
- World champions France held as UEFA qualifying kicked-off
- Road to Qatar 2022 also commenced in the Concacaf region with five matches
UEFA (All matches)
Portugal 1-0 Azerbaijan
- A 36th-minute own-goal proved enough for Portugal to beat Azerbaijan. Only an excellent performance from Shahruddin Mahammadaliyev kept the visitors in the game in the first half, with Cristiano Ronaldo denied on multiple occasions. Azerbaijan delivered a spirited second-half performance, giving their opponents a couple of scares on the counter-attack. Portugal extended their record winning streak in World Cup qualifiers to ten games.
Serbia 3-2 Republic of Ireland
- The Irish, without a goal in their last seven matches, ended that drought through Alan Browne’s towering back-post header. Dusan Vlahovic levelled for the hosts with a smart left-foot finish into the bottom-right corner before substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic put them ahead with a glorious chip from 30 yards. Mitrovic then completed the turnaround with a soaring leap and header to become his country’s joint all-time leading scorer, with James Collins’ scrappy late effort a mere consolation for the visitors.
France 1-1 Ukraine
- Antoine Griezmann curled in a beautiful goal to open the scoring, moving him level with David Trezeguet in joint-fourth in the list of France’s all-time scorers on 34 goals behind leader Thierry Henry, Olivier Giroud and Michel Platini. Serhii Sydorchuk equalised for Ukraine after his shot just inside the penalty area took a massive deflection off Presnel Kimpembe before nestling into the corner of the net.
Finland 2-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina
- After a goalless first half, the match burst into life in the second with Bosnia’s star man Miralem Pjanic tucking away a close-range effort after Finland goalkeeper Jesse Joronen saved his initial penalty kick. However, Finland’s star striker Teemu Pukki replied soon after, reacting after a shot hit off the crossbar. Pukki then completed his brace, finishing off a counter-attack for the Finns by calmly slotting past Ibrahim Sehic, before Miroslav Stevanovic equalised for the visitors.
Belgium 3-1 Wales
- Wales took a shock lead when Gareth Bale split the Belgium defence with a gorgeous through-ball for Harry Wilson, who slotted home. Belgium responded admirably though, with a fine Kevin De Bruyne strike and a Thorgan Hazard header putting them in front. Romelu Lukaku extended the advantage from the spot in the 73rd minute.
Estonia 2-6 Czech Republic
- A 16-minute Tomas Soucek hat-trick powered Czech Republic to a 6-1 win in Estonia. The West Ham United midfielder went into the game having scored just four times in 30 caps. In-form Bayer Leverkusen forward Patrik Schick continued a goal and two assists.
Turkey 4-2 Netherlands
- Hosts Turkey took a 15th-minute lead when Burak Yilmaz’s toe-poke flashed past Tim Krul via a cruel deflection off Mathijs de Ligt. The Netherlands pushed hard for an equaliser but were once again caught out on the break, with Yilmaz doubling his tally from the penalty spot, wrong-footing Krul after Donyell Malen had been penalised for a clumsy late challenge. Hakan Calhanoglu stunned Frank de Boer’s team with a third within seconds of the restart, firing a low 25-yard shot beyond the flat-footed Krul. Just as the Dutch appeared to be running out of ideas, substitute Davy Klaasen pulled a goal back with a superb turn and finish and, seconds later, Luuk de Jong scrambled the ball home from close range. But Yilmaz completed his first international hat-trick – and settled Turkish nerves – with a glorious free-kick, whipped into the top-right corner from 20 yards.
Gibraltar 0-3 Norway
- Norway cruised to a 3-0 win away to Gibraltar. Alexander Sorloth, Kristian Thorstvedt and Jonas Svensson got the goals. Only a brilliant performance from goalkeeper Dale Coleing prevented a bigger defeat for the hosts. Norway have won four of their last five World Cup preliminaries, all without conceding.
Latvia 1-2 Montenegro
- A stunning opener for the hosts saw Janis Ikaunieks lash home a left-foot volley, but Stevan Jovetic poked Montenegro level seconds later. Jovetic then settled the outcome with a glorious second as the clock ticked down, dribbling across field before curling a 20-yard shot in off the underside of the crossbar.
Slovenia 1-0 Croatia
- Sandi Lovric was the hosts’ hero, scoring to secure Slovenia a shock victory against the 2018 World Cup finalists in Ljubljana.
Malta 1-3 Russia
- The 2018 World Cup hosts got their 2022 qualifying campaign under way with goals from front man Artem Dzyuba and right-back Mario Fernandes. Dzyuba turned provider for the second, with each effort squeezing past Maltese goalkeeper Henry Bonello. Joseph Mbong got one back for the hosts, scoring his first international goal in some style by thundering a shot past Anton Shunin from an acute angle. But Alexander Sobolev sealed the victory for Stanislav Cherchesov’s side just minutes after coming off the bench, with his shot proving too powerful for Bonello.
Cyprus 0-0 Slovakia
- The night’s only goalless game in Europe saw visitors Slovakia dominate possession but their Cypriot hosts carve out arguably the better of the chances. A point apiece was ultimately a fair outcome.
Culled from: fifa.com