World Cup runners-up Croatia stayed on course to qualify for Euro 2020 after a dominant display gave them a 4-0 Group E win in Slovakia while Wales kept alive their own hopes after a 2-1 home victory over Azerbaijan on Friday. Croatia are level with Hungary at the top of a tight group with both teams on nine points from four games, three ahead of Wales and Slovakia. Azerbaijan have no points. The Croatians hit the woodwork three times in the first half in Trnava and Slovakia keeper Martin Dubravka pulled off several good saves before Nikola Vlasic fired the visitors ahead in the 45th minute with his first international goal. The midfielder took the ball in his stride and fired a stinging low shot past Dubravka from 20 metres after the home side had survived a fierce Croatian onslaught, with Domagoj Vida blazing a shot over the bar from four metres. Ivan Perisic, who hit the crossbar and the post in the first half, made it 2-0 less than a minute after the break when his heavily-deflected shot from 25 metres left Dubravka stranded. Striker Bruno Petkovic added the third with a simple close-range finish after a flowing move as Croatia kept their feet on the pedal while Slovakia could only muster a pair of shots from Robert Mak at the other end. Defender Dejan Lovren put the icing on the cake for Croatia with a diving header from a tight angle in the 89th minute. A bizarre Pavlo Pashayev own goal fired Wales ahead in the 26th minute against Azerbaijan as Gareth Bale's deflected shot looped into the air and went in off the defender's shoulder with keeper Salahat Agayev coming off his line to smother the ball. Mahir Emreli silenced the home crowd in Cardiff when he capitalised on Neil Taylor's blunder and beat Wayne Hennessey at the second attempt, slamming in the rebound after the Wales keeper parried his initial effort. But the Welsh had the last laugh as Bale beat Agayev with a looping header in the 84th minute after a deflected Joe Allen effort fell kindly into his path. Netherlands scored four times in 32 second-half minutes to stage a 4-2 comeback win against hosts Germany in their Euro 2020 Group C qualifier on Friday. The Germans went ahead with Serge Gnabry netting his fourth goal in four qualifiers in the ninth minute. The Dutch came back stronger after the break, scoring twice in seven minutes with Frenkie De Jong in the 59th and a Jonathan Tah own goal. Germany levelled with a harshly-awarded 73rd minute Toni Kroos penalty but the visitors got revenge for their 3-2 loss in Amsterdam in March, striking through Donyell Malen in the 79th after a quick combination left the German defence frozen. Georginio Wijnaldum completed the win in stoppage time. The result leaves Germany on nine points from four games, three behind leaders Northern Ireland, who they face on Monday in Belfast. The Dutch move up to six points from three games. Belarus earned a stoppage time 2-1 win at Estonia to claim their first points in the other game in the group on Friday. Slovenia ended Poland's 100 percent record in the Euro 2020 qualifiers when goals from Aljaz Struna and Andraz Sporar gave them a shock 2-0 win over the Group G leaders. Poland had not even conceded a goal in the section heading into the game but their defensive wall was finally breached in the 35th minute, just as they seemed to be taking control. Sporar flicked on Josip Ilicic's corner and Struna stuck out a leg at the far post to divert the ball past Lukasz Fabianski. The Poland keeper did well shortly afterwards to turn away Benjamin Verbic's back-flick as Slovenia, who had won only one of their previous 12 competitive games, continued to press. Striker Robert Lewandowski made a record 107th appearance for Poland, although this was later equalled by Jakub Blaszczykowski when he came on in the 70th minute. Slovenia had doubled their lead five minutes before that with a breakaway goal after with a throw-in in their own half. The hosts moved the ball quickly upfield and Sporar ran onto Ilicic's pass, outpaced the Polish defence and beat Fabianski from a tight angle. Poland are top with 12 points from five games, three ahead of Austria who thumped Latvia 6-0, while Slovenia are a further point behind in third. The top two teams qualify for Euro 2020.
Football EURO 2020