AP Photo/Darko Bandic

Croatia Back On Track, Beats Wales 2-1 In Euro Qualifier

June 08, 2019 - 2:27 pm

World Cup finalist Croatia put its 2020 European Championship qualifying campaign back on track with a 2-1 victory over Wales on Saturday, and Northern Ireland rallied late for its third straight victory.

Russia thrashed San Marino 9-0 for its biggest win since the Soviet era. That surpassed the previous post-Soviet marks of 7-0 against Liechtenstein and San Marino.

World champion France, Belgium, Italy and Germany are also in action later Saturday while the Netherlands face Portugal in UEFA's Nations League final on Sunday.

Artyom Dzyuba led the Russians with four goals in Saransk to join Belgium atop Group I with six points. With a game in hand, Belgium faces Kazakhstan on Saturday night.

Finland grabbed a 2-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina for a joint lead in Group J with Italy that plays at Greece later Saturday. Armenia got the first three points in the same group after topping Liechtenstein 3-0.

Also, Iceland beat Albania 1-0 to join France and Turkey at the top of Group H ahead of Turkey hosting France later Saturday. Moldova beat Andorra 1-0 for its first win in this group.

CROATIA REBOUNDS

James Lawrence scored an own-goal to give Croatia an early boost after diverting a cross from Ivan Perisic in the 17th minute in Osijek.

Croatia looked to be the better side anyway as it moved on from recent inconsistent results.

Perisic doubled the advantage early in the second half for Croatia to rebound from a 2-1 loss to Hungary in Budapest. Substitute David Brooks cut the deficit for Wales with a deflected shot in the 77th.

Hungary kept momentum with a 3-1 win in Azerbaijan to share the Group E lead with Croatia on six points, with Wales and Slovakia trailing by three points but with a game in hand.

NORTHERN IRELAND LEADS

Northern Ireland is a surprising early leader of Group C that includes Germany and the Netherlands.

Substitutes Conor Washington and Josh Magennis turned things around with goals in a span of four minutes late in the second half. Captain Konstantin Vassiljev put the hosts in front from a free kick in the first half.

Northern Ireland has nine points, six more than Germany which has two games in hand and plays at Belarus on Saturday.