European champion Italy took a big step on Tuesday toward being able to defend its title. Spain and Belgium won easily on their path to Euro 2024. Sweden looks like it’s failing to qualify for the first time in 28 years.
Romania and Kosovo managed to finish a game that risked being abandoned. Political pro-Serbia chants by home fans in Bucharest forced a 45-minute delay in the first half and players were taken back to their locker rooms.
After Romania risked forfeiting the game as a 3-0 loss, late goals earned a 2-0 win though the national federation now faces punishment in a UEFA disciplinary case.
The highest-stakes game of the evening saw Italy secure a vital 2-1 win over Ukraine in what shapes as a tight race to finish second in the group led by England.
Two first-half goals by Inter Milan midfielder Davide Frattesi in his home stadium at San Siro gave new coach Luciano Spalletti a first win after a tension-filled draw at North Macedonia on Saturday.
Italy’s improved and more energetic performance survived Ukraine forward Andriy Yarmolenko cutting the lead before halftime.
Italy and Ukraine are tied on seven points — with North Macedonia, which beat Malta 2-0 but has the toughest schedule — trailing six behind England, who Spalletti’s team must face at Wembley Stadium next month.
A possible scenario is a decisive final-round game between Ukraine and Italy on November 20: a place at Euro 2024 for one, and for the other uncertainty next March in the playoffs that stopped Italy going to the past two World Cups.
Sweden does not have a playoff option and not much hope of a top-two finish trailing badly behind Belgium and Austria in Group F.
As Belgium cruised past last-place Estonia 5-0, Sweden slumped to a 3-1 home loss against Austria that left coach Janne Andersson insisting he would not walk away from the job he has held for more than seven years.
Sweden has qualified for six straight Euros since missing the 1996 edition but now is seven points behind the two leaders with three rounds left. Next up: away to Belgium on Oct. 16.
Belgian celebrations started early against Estonia with veteran defender Jan Vertonghen scoring a fourth-minute header in his 150th game for the Red Devils.
Romelu Lukaku scored twice in three second-half minutes to run his tallies to 77 goals in 110 national-team games. Belgium next goes to Austria on Oct. 13.
Switzerland, Romania and Israel are locked in a three-way battle for two qualifying places from Group I.
Romania captain Nicolae Stanciu went over to talk with fans who had chanted and displayed a banner with the “Kosovo is Serbia” slogan early in the game. Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 is formally recognized by about 100 countries and the majority of European Union members though not Romania.
Late goals by Stanciu and Valentin Mihăilă, in stoppage time, sealed the win that proved even more important after Israel also found a goal in added time from Gabi Kanichowsky to beat Belarus 1-0.
Switzerland eventually cruised past last-place Andorra 3-0 with second-half goals from Cedric Itten, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri.
The Swiss lead Romania by two points with Israel a point further back and each had four games left. Israel hosts Switzerland on October 12.
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