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World Cup qualifying: Spain win over Greece secures Wales play-off spot | World Cup


A penalty from Spain’s Pablo Sarabia secured a 1-0 victory in their World Cup qualifier away to Greece, ensuring Wales are guaranteed a play-off spot at least

Rob Page’s side started their qualifying campaign knowing they would almost certainly reach the play-offs after winning their Nations League group. Wales must finish second in the group to be seeded for March’s play-offs.

La Roja themselves need a point from their showdown with Sweden at the weekend to secure a place at next year’s World Cup finals.

Sarabia’s winner came in the 26th minute after Iñigo Martínez was tripped following a corner. Sarabia’s low strike found the net to the left of Odysseas Vlachodimos.

Despite missing five players because of coronavirus isolation, Germany eased to a 9-0 win over 10-man Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifying. After the defender Niklas Süle had tested positive for Covid on Tuesday, four of his Germany teammates were ordered to isolate as close contacts.

But already assured of qualifying for the World Cup, Germany‘s straightforward task was made even easier when the Liechtenstein defender Jens Hofer was sent off after just nine minutes.

Hofer accidentally kicked the Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka in the face as they challenged for a high ball and immediately recognised his error, holding Goretzka to break his fall. After being red-carded for dangerous play, Hofer left the field arm-in-arm with the player he’d fouled.

Ilkay Gündoğan converted the penalty, starting a run of Germany goals. Leroy Sané and Thomas Müller finished with two goals each. Marco Reus and Ridle Baku also scored, along with two own goals.

After Sweden’s surprise 2-0 defeat way to Georgia, Spain now lead Group B with 16 points, one ahead of the second-placed Swedes who they host on Sunday in their final group match.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia scored twice in the second half to give Georgia their second win of the qualifying campaign on a sour night for the Swedes. The visitors had most of the chances throughout the match, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexander Isak squandering the best ones before Kvaratskhelia gave the hosts the win with goals in the 61st and 77th minutes.

Sweden must beat Spain in Seville to qualify automatically for Qatar 2022, while a draw would be enough for Spain to progress. The runners-up will head to the playoffs in March.

Russia struck five second-half goals as they routed visiting Cyprus 6-0 in their Group H ahead of a decisive clash with Croatia this weekend for an automatic berth in next year’s tournament in Qatar. The Russians top the group on 22 points from nine games, two ahead of 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia who stayed in contention to leapfrog them with a 7-1 demolition of Malta

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