World Cup 2018 Qualifiers: Spain hit eight; Italy and Wales win

ZURICH - Spain maintained their three-point advantage over Italy and Serbia moved four clear of their pursuers but the top four in Group I are separated by just two points after victories for Iceland and Turkey.
Alvaro Morata and Iago Aspas at the double as the 2010 World champions confirm play-off spot. / Internet photo
Alvaro Morata and Iago Aspas at the double as the 2010 World champions confirm play-off spot. / Internet photo

ZURICH - Spain maintained their three-point advantage over Italy and Serbia moved four clear of their pursuers but the top four in Group I are separated by just two points after victories for Iceland and Turkey.

GROUP D

 

Republic of Ireland 0-1 Serbia

 

Serbia stretched their lead at the summit to four points and are certain of a top-two finish as their ten men held on for victory in Dublin.

 

Aleksandar Kolarov crashed in the 55th-minute winner off the underside of the bar but the visitors had to show their resilience after Nikola Maksimovic was dismissed for a professional foul midway through the second half.

The Republic of Ireland drop to third after suffering their first defeat in the section.

Austria 1-1 Georgia

Austria are now five points adrift of second spot after a frustrating home draw. Valerian Gvilia swept in an early opening goal from a Georgia counterattack but Louis Schaub levelled just before the interval with his first international goal after Giorgi Makaridze parried Martin Harnik's effort.

Moldova 0-2 Wales

Hal Robson-Kanu and Aaron Ramsey struck in the last ten minutes to propel Wales into second place as they eventually ground down a stubborn Moldova.

17-year-old substitute Ben Woodburn, who struck the winning goal against Austria on Saturday, again played a pivotal role with an incisive run and cross that Robson-Kanu expertly guided past Ilie Cebanu.

Ramsey's deflected effort in added time confirmed a victory that edges Wales a point ahead of the Republic of Ireland.

GROUP G

Liechtenstein 0-8 Spain

Álvaro Morata and half-time substitute Iago Aspas both struck twice and laid on an assist as Spain cantered to their biggest competitive away win.

Sergio Ramos set the visitors on their way with a close-range header while Isco and David Silva also got in on the act, the latter scoring the pick of the bunch by curling in a left-footed free-kick. A late Max Göppel own goal capped a tough evening for the principality side.

Italy 1-0 Israel

Italy remain three points behind Group G leaders Spain after this narrow victory in Reggio Emilia. Ciro Immobile kept the Azzurri in touch at the top of the section with the only goal of the game eight minutes into the second half, heading a right-wing cross from Antonio Candreva into the roof of Ariel Harush's net.

FYR Macedonia 1-1 Albania

Substitute Aleksandar Trajkovski's 78th-minute penalty earned FYR Macedonia a draw and all but extinguished Albania's faint hopes of a second-place finish.

Albania, now six points adrift of Italy, had taken the lead eight minutes into second half when Odise Roshi headed Armando Sadiku's deep delivery back across goal and in off the far post.

GROUP I

Turkey 1-0 Croatia

Turkey beat section leaders Croatia for the first time in their history to close within two points of the summit.

Cenk Tosun prised the second-half winner from close range after Danijel Subašic failed to hold onto Oguzhan Özyakup's effort from distance. The victory lifts Turkey to third, ahead of Ukraine on goals scored.

Iceland 2-0 Ukraine

Gylfi Sigurdsson registered a second-half double as Iceland moved level on points with leaders Croatia and leapfrogged Ukraine into second spot.

The Everton midfielder followed up to open the scoring after a cut-back from the byline ran into his path. Sigurdsson claimed his second of the night after 66 minutes with a low shot that proved too strong for Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov.

Ukraine slip to fourth as a result, but they are only two points behind the top two.

Kosovo 0-1 Finland

Kosovo were seven minutes away from gaining their first home point in a qualification match, and a second draw in the section against Finland, when Teemu Pukki pounced to give the visitors their second victory in four days.

The goal gives fifth-placed Finland a six-point buffer on bottom side Kosovo with both out of the qualification picture.

Agencies

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