Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Late Rodrigo strike seals Spain's place at Euro 2020 but David de Gea injury gives Manchester United cause for concern

Valencia striker's late equaliser against Sweden means Spain are sixth team to seal their place at next year's finals

Spain substitute Rodrigo, centre, celebrates scoring an equaliser against Sweden, a goal that sealed Spain's place for Euro 2020. EPA
Spain substitute Rodrigo, centre, celebrates scoring an equaliser against Sweden, a goal that sealed Spain's place for Euro 2020. EPA

Rodrigo sealed Spain's place at Euro 2020 with a late equaliser against Sweden while Republic of Ireland's chances of joining them were hit after losing 2-0 in Switzerland.

Spain joined Ukraine, Poland, Belgium, Russia and Italy at next year's finals after Moreno climbed off the bench to level the tie in Stockholm, cancelling out former Al Ain striker Marcus Berg's 50th-minute effort.

The Valencia striker's goal sparked wild scenes of celebration on the touchline.

"Qualification is a must for a team like Spain but achieving it still has value," said Spain manager Robert Moreno. "It releases the pressure and gives us time to work."

Spain top Group F with 20 points, five ahead of the Swedes with two matches left to play. Romania, who missed the chance to take second spot when Norway's Alexander Sorloth snatched a late 1-1 draw in Bucharest, are a point further back in third place with only the top two guaranteed to progress.

A celebratory night for Spain was tempered slightly by the loss of goalkeeper David de Gea to a thigh injury in the second half, although that will worry his club Manchester United more ahead their meeting with Premier League leaders Liverpool this weekend.

Ireland stayed top of Group D despite going down to Haris Seferovic's early strike and a late Shane Duffy own goal in Geneva.

Switzerland won a penalty when Seamus Coleman blocked Breel Embolo's shot with his hand and was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Darren Randolph saved Ricardo Rodriguez's weak penalty from a stuttering run, pushing the ball onto the post.

The win in Geneva means the Swiss are just a point behind group leaders Ireland and Denmark with two matches remaining in their campaign, compared to just the one for the Irish, who host the Danes on November 18 needing a win to guarantee qualification.

"It's a cup final: beat Denmark to reach Euro 2020. I would have taken that at the start and I'll take it now," said the Ireland manager Mick McCarthy.

The last time the two teams met in a winner-takes all contest, a two-legged play-off to reach the 2018 World Cup, Denmark ran out 5-1 aggregate winners.

Switzerland, who also have the better of the head-to-head record with the Irish as the two teams drew 1-1 in September, take on group minnows Georgia and Gibraltar in their final two games.

"The result doesn't mean a lot in the group, we still need to get results in our next two games. If we get the points we need against Georgia and Gibraltar we can turn our attentions to Euro 2020," said Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic.

Finland took a step closer to a first appearance at the European Championship after Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki took his goals tally to seven in eight qualifiers with a brace against Armenia in Turku.

Fredrik Jensen gave the Finns a lead just-past the half-hour mark before twin second-half Pukki strikes - the second a delicate dink over Armenia goalkeeper Aram Ayrapetyan - gave the Finns a 3-0 victory.

Markku Kanerva's side stay nine points behind Group J winners Italy, who maintained their 100 per cent record with an eighth straight win, 5-0 against Liechtenstein.

The victory saw Roberto Mancini equal two-time World Cup-winning coach Vittorio Pozzo's long-standing record of nine consecutive wins as Azzurri manager.

Finland need a win over rock-bottom Liechtenstein to qualify for their first major tournament after fourth-placed Bosnia & Herzegovina lost 2-1 in Greece with an 88th-minute own goal from Adnan Kovacevic.

Israel kept their hopes of qualifying from Group G alive after seeing off Latvia 3-1 as Eran Zahavi scored his 11th goal of the qualifying campaign.

Andi Herzog's side are level on 11 points with North Macedonia and Slovenia and five behind second-place Austria, meaning they still have a chance with two games remaining.

Updated: October 16, 2019 08:56 AM

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