Friday, July 16, 2021

Hosts’ final heartbreak


While Euro 2020 and Copa America 2021 were taking place across Europe and in Brazil respectively, several World Cup qualifiers were also played out. In the North American section, Davis Rugamas scored twice as El Salvador blew St Kitts & Nevis away 4-0 on their travels, while in Asia , Kyrgyzstan pummelled 10-man Myanmar 8-1 with a hat-trick from Mirlan Murzaev in Japan while China overcame Syria 3-1 in the UAE where Maldives earned a 1-1 draw against Philippines and Thailand lost 1-0 to Malaysia. An Oday Dabbagh double helped Palestine to a 3-0 victory over Yemen in Saudi Arabia.

The Euros kicked off in Rome with the biggest shock of the tournament coming a day later when Christian Eriksen suffered a heart attack on the pitch in Copenhagen and Denmark lost 1-0 to minnows Finland. North Macedonia fell 3-1 to Austria in Bucharest and Patrik Schick completed his double for the Czech Republic with a 50- yarder against his Scottish hosts while Slovakia upset 10 Poles 2-1 in Sain Petersburg. Portugal humbled their Hungarian hosts 3-0 with a late brace from Cristiano Ronaldo and Wales missed a penalty but put 2 past Turkey in Baku while Scotland held England to a goalless draw at Wembley. Poland salvaged a 1-1 draw away to Spain while Portugal were defeated 4-2 in Germany and Scotland lost 3-1 at home to Croatia. Hungary twice took the lead in Germany, but a 2-2 draw sent them out of the competition. In the round of 16, Wales were dumped out by the Danes 4-0 with a Kasper Dolberg double in Amsterdam while 10 Dutchmen lost 2-0 to the Czechs in Budapest and Sweden ended up with 10 players and out of the competition after losing 2-1 to Ukraine with the Hampden Park decider coming in stoppage time of extra time. Italy, who defeated Belgium 2-1 in the quarter finals in Munich, went all the way to the final where they defeated hosts England on penalties at Wembley to go to the top of the world rankings.

In the Copa America, played mostly without spectators, Paraguay came from a goal down to beat 10 Bolivians 3-1 with 2 goals from Angel Romero in Brazil where Peru got the better of Colombia 2-1 and Paraguay beat Chile 2-0 before losing 1-0 to Uruguay. Brazil, who had stumbled 1-1 against Ecuador in a group match, reached the final where they lost 1-0 to Argentina at the Maracana.