Poland, Russia punch Euro 2020 Tickets; Germany, Netherlands Wait

Poland and Russia secured their places at Euro 2020 on Sunday with victories over North Macedonia and Cyprus respectively.

Russia eased to a 5-0 thrashing of 10-man Cyprus, with Poland joining them, Belgium and Italy in qualifying this week by seeing off North Macedonia 2-0.

Stanislav Cherchesov’s Russia, who reached the World Cup quarterfinals on home soil last year, only had to avoid defeat in Nicosia to follow Belgium in qualifying from Group I.

Russia will attempt to overtake Belgium, who beat Kazakhstan 2-0 earlier on Sunday, at the summit when they host the world’s No 1 side on November 16.

The European Championship finals, which start on June 12 next year, are being held at 12 different venues across the continent, including Saint Petersburg in Russia.

Poland went into their game against North Macedonia knowing victory would punch their ticket for the Euros.

They were forced to be patient by the visitors, who could qualify through the playoffs after winning their Nations League group if they fail to do so automatically.

But Przemyslaw Frankowski prodded home less than 60 seconds after coming on as a substitute in the 74th minute, before Akardiusz Milik made the points safe.

Poland remain three points clear of Austria, who won 1-0 in Slovenia, at the top of Group G, with North Macedonia and Slovenia five points further adrift.

Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands remained at the top of Group C ahead of Germany on head-to-head record with a nervy 2-1 win over Belarus in Minsk.

Victory in Belfast over the Northern Irish next month would secure the Oranje a first appearance at a major tournament since finishing third at the 2014 World Cup.

Germany eased to a 3-0 victory in Estonia despite seeing Emre Can sent off in the 14th minute.

Ilkay Gundogan, who along with Can before kickoff ‘unliked’ a controversial Instagram post by Turkey forward Cenk Tosun, scored twice, with Timo Werner also finding the net.

Joachim Loew’s side host Northern Ireland in their final game, which could decide second place.

Croatia were made to wait to qualify, as Gareth Bale’s strike in first-half injury time proved enough to grab a 1-1 draw for Wales in Cardiff.

Nikola Vlasic fired a low ninth-minute shot in off the post to put Croatia on course for qualification, before Bale’s fine goal secured Wales a point in a bad-tempered affair.

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