The biggest competition in European international football continued on Monday evening with the latest set of Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The likes of Spain, Republic of Ireland and Denmark were all involved in their respective fixtures, each hoping to pick up maximum points to enhance their chances of reaching the finals next year.
Here are nine things you might have missed from Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.
1. Ireland remain unbeaten despite average performance
After their impressive 1-1 draw away to Group D rivals Denmark, Mick McCarthy’s side went into this match unbeaten and top of the group after three matches.
Monday was a must-win for the Irish who knew this was probably the ‘easiest’ game of the group for them, with matches against Denmark, Switzerland and Georgia still to come.
3 – Republic of Ireland have won their previous three encounters with Gibraltar by an aggregate score of 12-0. Ireland picked up a 1-0 victory back in March courtesy of a goal from Jeff Hendrick. Expecting. pic.twitter.com/oYu25CTcPl
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 10, 2019
Gibraltar have lost every single qualifier they have ever played and that run wasn’t helped when a Joseph Chipolina deflection into his own net put the Irish 1-0 up before half-time.
In truth, it wasn’t an amazing performance from the Irish but a win is exactly that. After winning three and drawing once, Ireland now sit pretty atop of Group D, a massive five points clear of second-placed Denmark.
2. Pressured Portugal put under Ukraine strain
The first goal of Monday’s qualifiers was scored by Gent and Ukraine centre-forward Roman Yaremchuk who put his side ahead after just six minutes at home to Luxembourg.
Coming off the back of their 5-0 dismantling of Serbia last week, Ukraine have now put more pressure on Nations League winners Portugal after their 1-0 victory.
Cristiano Ronaldo and co. may have two games in hand on Andriy Shevchenko’s side but they now sit eight points behind them and have it all to do to finish top of Group B.
3. England irreplaceable atop of Group A
We said it Friday and we’ll say it again. England are already looking pretty good atop of Group A at present, and that’s without kicking a ball in the competition since March.
With the rest of England’s competitors fighting it out once again on Monday evening, it would have taken something spectacular for Gareth Southgate’s men not to remain at the group’s peak come full-time.
Czech Republic were able to build upon their 2-1 victory against Bulgaria with their second successive home victory, this time with a 3-0 win against Montenegro.
Elsewhere, a last minute goal scored by Elba Rashani secured Kosovo a vital away win against Bulgaria, meaning they are just a single point behind the Three Lions.
4. Mitrovic and Jovic help Serbia redeem themselves
Serbia’s performance against Ukraine was beyond terrible.
Yet, with the group still in its early stages, there is still plenty of time for Serbia to overcome Friday’s tragic result to get their European ambitions back on track.
On Monday they faced a Lithuania side who sit uncomfortably bottom of Group B and already have little chance of reaching the European Championships for the first time in their history.
Serbia’s big names got their act together as two goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic – once assisted by Dusan Tadic – and strikes from both Luka Jovic and Adem Ljajic secured a solid 4-1 win to reignite their campaign.
Mitrovic’s second was his 25th goal for his country in 49 games which at any level is a decent goalscoring average.
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5. Piatek ensures ‘Pole’ position
Poland haven’t missed a European Championships since Greece lifted the highly-sought trophy in 2004, defeating Portugal 1-0 in a shock result.
It seems the Polish presence will be felt once again following Monday’s result, a 4-0 win over Israel ensuring they remain unbeaten after four Group G matches.
💥 Top scorer for Genoa
💥 Top scorer for AC Milan
💥 Top scorer for Poland
Krzysztof Piątek is top of every possible scoring chart for club & country since the start of 2018-19. pic.twitter.com/KwFErtcROv
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 10, 2019
After scoring the winner away to North Macedonia on Friday, AC Milan centre-forward Krzysztof Piatek was at it again, netting 10 minutes before half-time to give Poland the advantage.
Further goals from Bayern Munich class-act Robert Lewandowski, Hull City winger Kamil Grosicki and midfielder Damian Kadzior secured three points for the hosts. An Israel win would have seen Poland slip to second with Andreas Herzog’s jumping ahead of them.
6. Ajax youngster doubles tally as Eriksen steps up
With the talent that can be found within the Denmark ranks, at this stage of the group they shouldn’t already be five points behind the Republic of Ireland.
Monday’s performance will go some way to aiding minor Danish disappointments. Ajax forward Kasper Dolberg – who underwhelmed with his performance in the Champions League semi-final defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last month – put the hosts in front to net his second goal for his country in 11 appearances.
Of course, he still has quite some way to go before beating fellow striking alumni Jon Dahl Tomasson’s record of 52 goals for Denmark.
Tottenham and Denmark’s main man Christian Eriksen played his part, netting from the penalty spot to drag the Danes ahead once again following Saba Lobzhanidze’s equaliser. The score finished 5-1 to Denmark in a match they dominated from start to finish.
7. Ramos is a goal machine
We spent a section praising Sergio Ramos’ international credentials on Friday but it would be impossible not to do so once again this evening.
First and second in Group F faced off with both sides undefeated heading into Monday’s fixture. Spain were able to overcome a strong Sweden side with three unanswered second-half goals.
Sergio Ramos has taken 11 penalties for club & country since the start of the 2018-19 season.
He's scored every single one. https://t.co/oXDALbddMr
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 10, 2019
Incredibly, Ramos’ second-half goal – an accurate finish from the penalty spot – means he is now just one goal away from being Spain’s ninth top scorer in the nation’s footballing history.
He has 20 goals to his name for Spain, meaning he has scored more goals than the likes of Alvaro Morata (16), Andres Iniesta (13) Juan Mata (11) and Diego Costa (10).
8. Another double for a Romanian striker
Grabbing themselves a last-minute point in their away 2-2 draw with Norway would have filled Romania with confidence knowing that Malta was next in their sights.
With Spain and Sweden battling it out, there was a real opportunity for Cosmin Contra’s side to catch-up some points on their group rivals.
Following Claudiu Keseru’s double on Friday, tonight it was fellow striker George Pușcaș’ turn to smash two beyond an opposing goalkeeper, nabbing his second and third goals of this Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
Romania’s next fixture in this competition comes in September when they host Spain, who currently sit just three points ahead with a goal difference that is better by a single strike.
9. Latvia crash to heaviest defeat in five years
The last time Latvia conceded more five or more goals was in 2014 when the Netherlands smashed them for six in the Euro 2016 qualifiers in 2014.
However, Monday was a match made of nightmares as Latvia lost 5-0 on home soil against Slovenia, who previously hadn’t won any of their matches in Group G.
Two goals apiece from both Domen Crnigoj and Josip Iličić and a second-half goal from Miha Zajc sealed a thumping victory for Matjaž Kek’s side.