Australia captain, defensive midfielder and rugged bearded hero Mile Jedinak had the game of his life, scoring a hat trick to propel the Socceroos to the 2018 World Cup with a 3-1 defeat of Honduras on Wednesday in Sydney. Jedinak scored on a free kick and two penalty kicks before Honduras’ Alberth Elis scored a consolation goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time. The first leg of the intercontinental playoff was a 0-0 draw in Honduras.
Denmark and Sweden World Cup qualification is historic. For the first time in history, three Nordic teams have qualified to the World Cup.
Iceland, Sweden and Denmark will be leading a full-on Viking invasion of Russia next summer.
However, this is not the first time there has been a massive Scandinavian incursion into Russia.
Interestingly, historians argue it was the Rus — an ancient Viking tribe of Swedish origin — who first came to modern Russia in the ninth century AD.
For a moment, it looked like plucky Ireland were going to qualify for the World Cup. Shane Duffy's silly goal put them up 1-0 on Denmark at home. All they had to do was see the game out without conceding. But then Christian Eriksen decided he had had enough, as only a handful of players in the world can do, and tore Ireland up on the way to a hat trick, a 5-1 win and World Cup qualification for Denmark.
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People have started to write the obituaries for Italian football.
Italy is a young nation. It has old cities, even older cultures. But, as a country, it was only unified in 1861. That’s only slightly older than the form of codified football we know today. It should be no surprise that Italy has traditionally been so close to football: it’s simply a question of historical proximity.
We get it. When things are not going our way, soccer and any other sport can bring out some nasty stuff. This was made disgracefully evident by the 80,000 Italian fans that attended San Siro and whistled during the entirety of Sweden’s national anthem.
However, and this is what we value most in soccer, the beautiful game can also bring out the very best in us as human beings.
In the end, the only moment that separated Switzerland and Northern Ireland in their World Cup qualifying playoff was a dubious penalty call awarded to the Swiss in Belfast. Sunday’s return leg at St Jakob-Park in Basel ended in a 0-0 draw with the Irish again looking extremely limited going forward, but Switzerland were entirely wasteful as well, particularly forward Haris Seferovic.
Following a 1-0 defeat to Sweden on Friday, Italy is on the brink of failing to qualify for the World Cup for just the second time in the national team’s history. Italy must rebound in the return leg on Monday in Milan if the Azzurri want to reach a 19th World Cup.
Sweden registered a famous 1-0 victory over Italy in their World Cup qualifying playoff first leg in Stockholm thanks to a deflected effort from substitute Jakob Johansson. The return leg is on Monday in Milan with Italy’s hopes of a 19th World Cup appearance in serious jeopardy.
Johansson’s 61st minute strike was vital, but Sweden’s ability to successfully keep Italy off the scoresheet was just as big. An away goal in Milan would almost certainly be enough to send Sweden through, and this Swedish side has enough talent to go toe-to-toe with the four-time world champions.
Senegal qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia by beating South Africa 2-0 in a World Cup qualification replay on Friday. For the second goal, South Africa capitulated in perhaps the most painful way possible: the shambolic own goal.