Football Features

11 things you might have missed from Saturday’s Euro 2020 qualifiers as France handed shock defeat

By Harry Edwards

Published: 21:48, 8 June 2019

Although the excitement of the Women’s World Cup is now underway, there is still the small matter of Euro 2020 qualifiers taking place.

Saturday saw a total of 13 games played across the qualifying groups, spread across three different kick-off times.

With so much football on, it can be hard to keep track of everything. But fear not, Squawka have got you covered, with 11 things you might have missed from Saturday’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.

1. Lawrence joins Williams on unfortunate list

Wales’ game against Croatia in one of the early kick-offs looked set to be an important one between the two favourites to qualify out of Group E.

Ryan Giggs’ side haven’t been on the best form lately, and got off to the worst start with Jamie Lawrence putting the ball into his own net.

It came from an exciting break from Croatia through Ivan Perisic, with the Inter Milan winger making his way into the box. With the chance to shoot gone, Perisic played the ball across the box to Andrej Kramaric, but before the forward could get a touch on it, Lawrence ran in front of him and completed the move for Croatia.

An unfortunate moment, it was the first own goal Wales have scored since Ashley Williams put into his own net against Iceland in March 2014 – a wait of five years and 95 days – though Wales would go on to win that game.

2. Croatia extend formidable home record

Croatia is known for its incredible fortresses spread across the nation, so it should come as no surprise that the national team are ruthless at home.

Their 2-1 win over Wales means the Blazers remain unbeaten at home in 24 matches, a run which has included 20 wins.

Belgium are the last team to leave Croatia will all three points, when Romelu Lukaku scored twice in a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win in October 2013.

Since then the likes of Wales, Spain, England, Ukraine, Iceland, Italy and Bulgaria have all tried and failed to beat Croatia on their home turf.

3. Gareth Bale’s long throw

Gareth Bale’s club future is currently up in the air, and there have even been whispers of the Welshman retiring.

Though the Real Madrid man is a fan of golf, it appears javelin could also be an option if he decides to move away from football.

In the opening stages of Wales’ 2-1 away defeat to Croatia, the visitors were looking to apply pressure. With a throw in just inside the Croatia half, Bale wasted little time in restarting the game, launching a ridiculous through ball to Harry Wilson with his hands.

Unfortunately Bale was denied the assist with Wilson’s first-time effort poor, though it could have brought up some discussion about the legitimacy of the throw.

Either way, Rory Delap would be proud.

4. Vassiljev’s curler beats Peacock-Farrell

Having already been beaten by Northern Ireland in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, Estonia would have been hoping to exact revenge when the Green and White Army travelled to Tallinn.

And they got off to a good start, with Konstantin Vassiljev rifling in a powerful free-kick midway through the first half.

Placed roughly 30 yards outside the Northern Ireland area, things looked in favour for the visitors and goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

But Vassiljev found a way to curve the ball slightly around the outside of the wall and into the bottom corner of the net. Though questions may be asked of Paddy McNair on the edge of that wall, turning his back and allowing the ball past him, Peacock-Farrell should have done better to stop the ball creeping in at his near post.

To make matters worse for Peacock-Farrell, the Leeds goalkeeper has not endeared himself to club fans recently, threatening to quit the Whites if he is not their number one next season.

5. Russia put nine past San Marino

In Russia’s first two games of Group I, Stanislav Cherchesov’s men scored five goals – one against Belgium before putting four past Kazakhstan.

In their third game, they almost tripled their total tally for the group, beating San Marino 9-0 at the Mordovia Arena.

Consider it was a nine-goal match, it wasn’t the greatest start with San Marino holding off for 25 minutes before 20-year-old defender Michele Cevoli diverted Aleksandr Golovin’s cross into this own net – opening the flood gates.

Within 16 minutes of the opener, Russia were 4-0 up with Artem Dzyuba, Fedor Kudryashov and Anton Miranchuk all finding the net before half-time.

And there was no let up after the break, with Dzyuba scoring another three – including the rebound from his penalty saved by Elia Benedettini – and Fedor Smolov grabbing a brace.

It was the nation’s biggest win since being known as Russia, but was one goal off equalling the Soviet Union’s record – an 11-1 win against India in 1955 and 10-0 victory over Finland in 1957.

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6. The Pukki Party goes on

What a season Teemu Pukki is having.

The Finnish forward was in emphatic form for Norwich City in the Championship, scoring 29 league goals to push the Canaries to the Premier League.

And he’s not stopped there. Leading the line for Finland, Pukki scored both goals in his nation’s 2-0 win over Bosnia & Herzegovina to put Markku Kanerva’s side second in their group.

But Norwich fans may not be wanting Pukki to do too well, with Benfica sniffing around about a potential transfer.

7. Barella shows his striking ability

Italy cruised to a 3-0 victory over Greece in Athens, thanks to goals from Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Insigne and Leonardo Bonucci.

Barella opened the scoring midway through the first half with a neat finish from Andrea Belotti’s cutback, adding some power to the ball to ensure no defender got a block in.

But just moments before, a ball boy found out just how much power Barella holds in his left foot.

Looking to get a cross into the box, Barella’s ball was blocked by Sokratis on the byline, before bouncing off the Italian and going out for a goal kick.

Annoyed with the rebound going against him, Barella kicked the ball over the advertising hoardings. But standing just behind them were two ball boys, with the ball hitting one right in the face.

Luckily, the boy was not hurt by the kick and Barella was quick to jump over and check on his welfare. And fortunately for Italy, Barella was able to channel the power into a shot on goal shortly after.

8. Manuel Neuer does Neuer things

Manuel Neuer has always been comfortable with the ball at his feet, whether beneficial or detrimental to his sides.

But on Saturday evening, Neuer showed just how confident he is in his own abilities, taking on Yuri Kovalev near the corner flag.

The move started with Neuer and Kovalev a loose ball, which the Belarusian won. However, his touch was a bit too heavy and took him closer to the corner flag than the goal.

While some goalkeepers may use this time to get back into a position to save, Neuer decided to play defender, chasing Kovalev and winning the ball but.

But this is Neuer, and that wasn’t enough, with the German goalkeeper proceeding to beat Kovalev twice – once with a Cruyff turn which caused the attacker to fall over – before passing calmly to a team-mate.

9. Turkey get first win over France

It was a result not many would have expected, but Turkey were fully deserving of their 2-0 win over France.

The home side hand the world champions on the ropes for most of the game, with France’s defence lacking any kind of organisation.

Kaan Ayhan opened the scoring for Turkey after half an hour, as he found space inside the six yard box to head in following a set piece. Cengiz Under doubled the lead 10 minutes later as Turkey capitalised on lax defending from France on the edge of their own area.

It really could have been more for Turkey but for a fine Hugo Lloris performance in the second half, but the two goals were enough to see Şenol Güneş’ side take control of group H and end France’s unbeaten start.

The win was also the first time Turkey have beaten France, with Les Bleus winning the five meetings prior to Saturday evening.

10. France falter in front of goal

Not only did France lose to Turkey for the first time, but they made a woeful attempt of getting back into the game once going behind.

Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe had nights to forget in Turkey, while Paul Pogba and Lucas Digne also struggled to create.

In the 90 minutes plus injury time, France failed to hit the target with any of their four shots. This was the first time Les Bleus had done so in the last 10 years.

11. Andy Robertson’s June gets better

Andrew Robertson may not have many better months in his life than June 2019.

The Scot kicked off the month by winning the Champions League with Liverpool, beating Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid and banishing the trauma of the 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid. It was the first major trophy of Robertson’s career.

And a week later he scored a rocket strike to put Scotland ahead against Cyprus, setting up a positive start to life under Steve Clarke.

And a week later he scored the opening goal, a rocket strike, in Scotland’s 2-1 victory over Cyprus to get Steve Clarke’s tenure off to winning start.

The win sees Scotland level on points with second-placed Russia, behind only on goal difference but with a tough game against Belgium up next.