With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar now just over a year away and with only two rounds of fixtures left to seal that vital place at the tournament, it’s now or never for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Miss out on all the action? We got you. Here’s our round-up of the World Cup qualifying fixtures from Matchdays 7 and 8.
Super Scott To The Rescue
Wales kicked off Matchday 7 for the Home Nations on Friday night with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Czech Republic in Prague. Aaron Ramsey put the visitors in front with a tidy finish before Jakub Pesek responded for the home side after just 2 minutes.
A shocking mistake from Wales keeper Danny Ward gave the Czech’s a lead early in the second half, before a confident finish from Leeds winger Dan James secured Wales a much-deserved equaliser.
A period of intense Wales pressure followed but the Czechs held on for the draw.
It was a good night for England and Scotland on Saturday. Gareth Southgate’s men romped to a 0-5 victory away in Andorra with Ben Chilwell, Bukayo Saka, Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Grealish, his first in an England shirt, all getting on the scoresheet.
But the real drama came in Glasgow, where Scotland pulled off a dramatic win over Israel to keep their qualification hopes alive.
Eran Zahavi put the away side in front with a majestic free-kick, before John McGinn brought the home side level with a stunning finish of his own. But Israel were back in front just 2 minutes later thanks to Mu’nas Dubbar, giving the visitors the lead at half-time.
Lyndon Dykes, who had just missed a penalty, pulled the Scots level before Scott McTominay, deep into stoppage time, bundled home the winner to lift the roof off Hampden Park and send the Tartan Army into delirium.
It wasn’t a great night for Northern Ireland, who suffered a 2-0 defeat to Switzerland in Geneva, with Jamal Lewis being controversially sent off in the first half for time wasting. Steven Zuber and Christian Fassnacht struck for the home side.
England Wobble At Wembley
In Matchday 8, Wales held on to a 1-0 lead for over 75 minutes to beat Estonia in Tallinn on Monday night. Kieffer Moore stabbing home the early goal to keep Welsh hopes of a play-off place alive.
On Tuesday, England drew 1-1 at home to Hungary. Luke Shaw gave away a penalty which Roland Sallai converted to give Hungary the lead. John Stones drew England level, but a disappointing second half display meant England were unable to find a winner.
There was more late drama in the Scotland game. Lyndon Dykes struck 5 minutes from time to seal another win for the Scots in the Faroe Islands.
Meanwhile, a 2-1 defeat to Bulgaria ended Northern Ireland’s chances of a place in Qatar. Conor Washington gave them hope with a goal in the 35th minute, before two second half Bulgarian goals meant it was all over for Ian Baraclough and his men.
How It Stands
Wales’ play-off hopes in Group E are still alive after taking 4 points from 2 games. They currently sit 3rd with 2 games left, level on points with Czech Republic in 2nd but with a weaker goal difference.
Scotland remain in 2nd with a 4-point cushion over Israel in Group F. With 2 games remaining, Steve Clarke’s side need 3 points against Moldova in their next game to seal their place in the play-offs.
Despite their wobble against Hungary at Wembley, England remain top of Group I, 3 points ahead of Poland in 2nd. Southgate’s men need just 4 points from their 2 remaining fixtures to secure top spot.
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