No Haaland as Spain beat Norway
Paris, March 26: New faces dominated European Championship qualifying as Spain coach Luis de la Fuente swept aside Norway in his first game in charge and a Wales forward rescued a dramatic draw in his first international match.
Best known until now for coaching Spain’s youth teams, De la Fuente didn’t have to deal with Norway’s striker Erling Haaland, who missed the game with a groin injury on Saturday. The 3-0 victory extended Spain’s record of 23 consecutive home wins in qualifying games for the European Championship.
Spain was in control after Dani Olmo’s 13th-minute opening goal but didn’t close out the game until substitute Joselu scored twice in quick succession late on in his international debut.
For Norway, it was a frustrating reminder of the difference Haaland can make. The Manchester City striker has scored 21 times in 23 games for his country since his debut in 2019, but has now missed seven of Norway’s last 15 games with various injury and fitness concerns.
In the other game in Group A, Scotland beat Cyprus 3-0 in coach Steve Clarke’s first match since extending his contract through to the 2026 World Cup. Scotland is aiming to qualify for consecutive European Championships for the first time since 1996.
Scotland led by a single goal for most of the game after John McGinn scored in the 21st before Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay scored twice in the final minutes to ensure the win.
Wales rescue draw
Nathan Broadhead had a dream debut for Wales as the substitute salvaged a 1-1 draw with a goal in stoppage time against World Cup semifinalist Croatia.
Broadhead, who plays for Ipswich in the third tier of English football, was first to the ball when a long throw was flicked on in the third minute of stoppage time. Wales was playing its first game since Gareth Bale retired following the World Cup.
Andrej Kramaric gave Croatia the lead after latching on to a long pass from goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic in the 28th. Luka Modric, still playing for his country at age 37, played in Ivan Perisic to a good position late on but the Tottenham midfielder hit the crossbar.
Also in Group D, Turkey recovered from conceding an early own-goal to beat Armenia 2-1.
Quick hat trick
Renato Steffen needed less than a half-hour to score a hat trick as Switzerland demolished Belarus 5-0 in Group I. No fans were there to see the feat.
Steffen scored in the fourth, 17th and 29th minutes, with all the goals from inside the six-yard box. Steffen had scored just once for his country in 29 previous games.
Russia was banned from Euro 2024 qualifying by UEFA but its close ally Belarus was allowed to keep playing on condition of hosting its games in neutral countries with no fans allowed. Belarus chose Novi Sad in Serbia.
Israel and Kosovo drew 1-1, and Romania beat Andorra 2-0.
Hansi Flick and his team don’t have to go through qualifying because Germany is the host nation of the European Championship next year. Following a disappointing group-stage elimination at the World Cup, Germany started its rebuild Saturday with a 2-0 win over Peru in a friendly.
Niclas Füllkrug opened the scoring off a pass from Kai Havertz in the 12th minute and made it 2-0 in the 33rd off a cross from right back Marius Wolf, who was making his debut for Germany. Havertz missed a penalty in the second half. Apart from Wolf, Flick gave debuts to Brentford winger Kevin Schade and Augsburg forward Mergim Berisha off the bench. (AP)
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