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Iceland qualifies, Wales on course
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 08 - 09 - 2015

LONDON — Iceland made it to its first major tournament Sunday but Wales will have to wait a little longer to secure a place at the 2016 European Championship after Belgium grabbed a late winner in Cyprus.
Iceland's goalless draw against Kazakhstan was a drab affair, but it was enough to guarantee the tiny nation a place as one of the top two finishers in Group A, along with the Czech Republic.
Wales was also held to a goalless draw by Israel in Group B and now needs one point from its final two matches in October to make it to France next year.
“It's a shame for our supporters who wanted to celebrate but it (qualification) is coming,” Wales manager Chris Coleman said.
Meanwhile, Italy remained in command of Group H after Daniele de Rossi's early penalty was enough to secure a 1-0 win against Bulgaria.
The top two finishers from the nine groups qualify automatically for next year's tournament. The best third-place team also qualifies automatically, and the eight remaining third-place teams go to a playoff to contest the last four qualifying places.
Here is a look at Sunday's Euro 2016 qualifying matches:
Group A
The Netherlands' chances of qualifying slipped further away as the team that finished third at last year's World Cup crashed to a 3-0 defeat in Turkey.
The resounding victory in Konya meant that Turkey overtook the Dutch in the race for third place. The Netherlands now trails Turkey by two points, with two games left to play.
Dutch-born midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup put Turkey 1-0 up in the eighth minute, before goals from Arda Turan and Burak Yilmaz completed the Dutch humiliation.
Iceland will be joined in France next year by the Czech Republic after its 2-1 win over Latvia. Both sides have 19 points — seven more than Turkey.
Group B
Wales had two chances to seal progress to its first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
A victory over Israel would have guaranteed Wales a place in next year's Euros, but Israel ground out a point it appeared to come for thanks to a solid defensive display.
The unbeaten Welsh were then relying on the unlikely scenario of Cyprus taking points off Belgium, the world's No. 2-ranked team. Just when it looked as if it may happen, Eden Hazard swept in a left-footed finish on a counterattack to seal a scrappy 1-0 win for the Belgians.
Wales leads Belgium by a point, with Israel four points further back in third. Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Andorra 3-0 to trim the gap to Israel to two points with two rounds of games left.
Group H
Italy is on the brink of securing qualification after two 1-0 successive victories moved it top of its qualifying group.
Daniele de Rossi scored with a re-taken penalty after Veselin Minev had tripped Antonio Candreva. However, the Roma midfielder went from hero to villain when he was sent off in the second half, along with Bulgaria forward Iliyan Mitsanski, after both committed fouls in retaliation.
Jo Inge Berget had earlier helped Norway beat Croatia 2-0 to leapfrog above its opponent into second spot, netting the first before seeing a shot deflected in by the unfortunate Vedran Corluka.
Italy has 18 points, two more than Norway. Croatia is a point further back but also likely to lose a point for fan trouble pending an appeal.
Bulgaria has eight points, while Azerbaijan has six and Malta two following a 2-2 draw. — AP


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