Euro 2016 qualifiers clockwatch – as it happened

Spain swept past Macedonia 5-1, Sweden drew 1-1 with Austria, and Slovakia got an unlikely 1-0 win in Ukraine

Summary

Massive result for Slovakia in Ukraine – 46th in the rankings beat No22 there – and kudos to Estonia who join England and Lithuania as joint-top leaders of Group E. The rest of the results followed the form book, but I’ll give a special mention to Man City’s David Silva, who was mesmeric in Spain’s comprehensive 5-1 win over Macedonia.

Thanks for your email and tweets, and ta for reading. If you’re of a tennis persuasion, the men’s US Open final is starting – follow it here. Otherwise, ni-night!

England meanwhile have beaten Switzerland 2-0 in Basel. Welbeck got both the goals. Excellent result. Read how it happened here.

Ukraine have just had a goal disallowed in injury time! It was ‘scored’ by their goalkeeper Pyatov, who is making his 50th appearance tonight, who was up for a corner, but was adjudged to have fouled a defender as the cross came in.

And that’s it. Slovakia have beaten Ukraine 1-0. Full time!

Full-time scores!

Group C

Spain 5-1 Macedonia

Luxembourg 1-1 Belarus

Ukraine 0-1 Slovakia (still playing)

Group E (for England’s group)

Estonia 1-0 Slovenia

San Marino 0-2 Lithuania

Group E

Austria 1-1 Sweden

Montenegro 2-0 Moldova

GOAL! Spain 5-1 Macedonia (Pedro 90)

Is this fair to say Spain are back to their best. Not quite, Macedonia have been largely dire in this second half but it’s another magnificent goal. Silva, again the architect, slips a beautifully weighted ball to Pedro, who is quick enough to beat the offside trap before dinking a lovely chip over the onrushing Pacovski.

GOAL! Estonia 1-0 Slovenia (Purje 86)

Crucial goal for Estonia. It’s an almighty goal-mouth scramble and Purje pokes it home. Slovenia are down to ten-men after having Dalibor Stevanovic sent-off for two yellow cards.

GOAL! Montenegro 2-0 Moldova (Tomasevic 73)

Another goal from a corner for Montenegro. The ball is knocked down and Tomasevic calmly cushions the ball into the net with his instep. Should be curtains for Moldova.

Another great save from Casillas, tipping over a shot that was just creeping under the bar.

Meanwhile Munir El Haddadi is on for Koko. He makes his Spanish debut at age 19 years and 7 days, the youngest since Bojan’s debut in 2008. (@infostradalive)

The Barcelona youngster only made his debut for the Spanish U-21 team four days ago, but has been fast-tracked to the senior team after breaking into the Barcelona team this season. He was playing non-league football in Spain just two years ago, and now on the field with the European champions!

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GOAL! Luxembourg 1-1 Belarus (Dragun 78)

Belarus have equalised! Have a look at the match centre here.

Great chance for Ukraine! Ball is swung in from the right, it is flicked on and the full-back Fedetskiy arrives late but the ball is at an awkward height and he can only knee if over the bar. Ukraine really pushing hard for that equaliser, still 1-0 down.

Remember Ukraine have never qualified for a European Championship, although they did play in 2012 as co-hosts.

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No more goals in the other matches at present. San Marino are still holding Lithuania to just a two-goal deficit. They’ve plenty of part-timers: bank clerk, removal man, students, but are faring a lot better than Gibraltar did last night against Poland. Making their competitive Uefa debut, they lost 7-0.

This was their starting line-up. Poland have Robert Lewandowski (who scored four). Not fair.

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Isco is on for Spain’s only striker Alcacer. The Real Madrid man is so, so talented, but has been squeezed out at the Bernabeu due to the recent arrivals. Here’s what he is capable of (back with Malaga in 2012), I can’t quite fathom how he keeps hold of it. SKILLZZZ.

GOAL! Switzerland 0-1 England (Welbeck 54)

Low cross from Sterling, and the new Arsenal man is there to shin it in from 4 yards. That was a terrible connection, he was lucky it didn’t skew wide. Follow the MBM with Simon Burton, if you like.

GOAL! Spain 4-1 Macedonia (Silva 48)

And that should be the game for Spain, they could have easily been drawing the game at half time but have got one either side of the break. Silva has been Spain’s best player tonight, interesting to see what role he gets in the team now that Xabi Alonso and Xavi have retired from the international game.

Silva slips a ball down to Jordi Alba on the byline and gets the ball back from the full-back. One touch to get it out of his feet, and he smashes a low ball toward the back post. It goes through a set of legs to deceive the keeper and finds the corner.

Macedonia have come out like a train in Valencia. Abdurahimi is put clean through but Casillas scampers off his line and saves the shot with his trailing foot. Ball goes behind for a corner. Great save, the Real Madrid man is under pressure for the No1 jersey. Here’s what Ian McCourt had to say about that in our ‘10 things to look out for’ preview piece.

Hello De Gea (goodbye Casillas)

To avoid handing their illegal haul of alcohol over to the police, Homer – playing the role of the beer baron – and Bart – his able assistant – take a detour through a cemetery. Gravestones are knocked over and the police are lost but Homer’s car comes home a wreck. “What happened to you, Homer?” asks Marge “And what have you done to the car? … I don’t think it had broken axles before.” An indignant Homer replies: “Before, before! You’re living in the past, Marge! Quit living in the past!” Vicente del Bosque would do well to heed this advice, especially when it comes to selecting his goalkeeper. If we learned anything from the World Cup, it is that Iker Casillas is well and truly past his best. It is time for Casillas to go and it is time he is replaced by David de Gea. After a rough start and despite playing behind a mediocre Manchester United defence, De Gea has blossomed into one of United’s most consistent players. Unlike the Real Madrid man, he commands his box, he reacts with the speed and alertness required of a keeper at this level and he has time on his side. Spain are at the start of a new cycle and they should begin that journey with De Gea in goal.

Peeep! We’re off again!

“Austria got knocked out the World Cup qualifiers in their last group game against Sweden after being in the lead,” emails Jan Krcmar from the Czech republic. “So Austria is looking for revenge.”

Apologies that I missed it – I’ve got about seven screens up at the moment – but suggestions that Zlatan should have been sent-off in the closing stages of that first half.

Um, yeah. Yeah he should have been.

It’s also 0-0 in Switzerland 0-0 England. Read Simon Burnton’s MBM report here, or have a look at the best images from St Jakob Park.

The below pic was not included in our illustrious gallery, but needs to be seen.

Half-time all round

Group C

Spain 3-1 Macedonia

Luxembourg 1-0 Belarus

Ukraine 0-1 Slovakia

Group E (for England’s group)

Estonia 0-0 Slovenia

San Marino 0-2 Lithuania

Group E

Austria 1-1 Sweden

Montenegro 1-0 Moldova

Montenegro 1-0 Moldova (Vucinic 45+1)

Simple goal – ball swung in from the corner on the right side. Vucinic gets up above his marker and plants the ball into the top right corner, above the man on the post.

He’s recently moved from Juventus to Al Jazira in UAE Pro-League. Shame.

“Why did I choose Al Jazira? The reason is because the Arab world fascinates me, because there is so much luxuy and luxury fascinates everyone.” he said recently.

Wow. At least he’s honest.

Spain 3-1 Macedonia (Busquets 45+1)

Ah, there we go. It’s been coming. The ball breaks to Busquets on the edge of the box. The Barcelona midfielder takes it first time, taking a wicked deflection of Sikov and nestles into the bottom right hand corner. Keeper no chance – it was probably heading straight at him. First international goal for Busquets in his 70th appearance!

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Somehow Macedonia are still in this. Pacovski makes a point blank save from Silva. He didn’t know much about it, but a good save regardless. For any of you that wanted to see that Ramos Panenka from earlier ...

GOAL! San Marino 0-2 Lithuania (Novikovas 36)

That’s an absolute pearler from Novikovas, curling the ball into the top right corner. Lithuania cruising.

Spain’s Koke has just made a absolute Regi Blinker of a challenge on Macedonia’s Alilovski. The Atletico man was stretching for a cross, but got nowhere near it, completely upending the full back. Should have been sent-off but just gets a yellow! That’s the importance of the home ground, if Spain were away, you could see the crowd baying for a blood red card.

Speaking of good saves, Ukraine’s Pyatov has just pulled off a worldy, diving to his left to tip round a shot from range. Slovakia are looking very good here, although they’ve just conceded a dangerous free kick on the edge of their own box. Fired into the wall, a waste.

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Macedonia fans, I wouldn’t get too hopeful. You’re under heavy pressure here. Pacovski in goal making a quite wonderful save to tip a Pedro shot round the post. The Barcelona winger holds his head in hands in disbelief and looks to the sky. Inches wide, great save.

GOAL! Spain 2-1 Macedonia (Ibraimi pen 27)

Trajkovski drives down the left hand channel and cuts inside to the byline, just inside the Spain box. Juanfran with a very clumsy challenge, got none of the ball, it’s the right decision. Ibraimi, who plays his clubs football with Maribor, sends Casillas the wrong way, game on!

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“Ukraine ‘all guns blazing’. Ouch!” points out Jimmy Maloney.

Wholly unintentional I promise!

Also worth noting Lithuania have taken the lead away at San Marino – 1-0. Deividas Matulevicius has got the goal there. Match centre here.

GOAL! Ukraine 0-1 Slovakia (Mak 17)

They are coming thick and fast now. POAK’s Mak comes off his wing and is put clean through. He has time to steady himself, take a touch, get his head up and pass the ball into the near post. Cool finish. What a result that would be for Slovakia!

GOAL! Spain 1-0 Macedonia (Alcacer 16)

Doesn’t seem like the pitch is holding Spain back. A long diagonal finds Silva breaking into the box – he gets there just before the keeper and squares a lofted ball to the Alcacer, who is completely unmarked and volleys home on his home ground. The ground erupts!

GOAL! Spain 1-0 Macedonia (Ramos pen 13)

Ramos scored a Panenka! Silva was pulled back in the box, and Ramos, who I didn’t expect to take it, waits for the goalkeeper to dive before chipping it down the middle. Very cheeky!

Incidentally, the groundsman at Valencia (where the game is being played) has got it all wrong. The pitch is nearly waterlogged in places there.

GOAL! Austria 1-1 Sweden (Zengin 11)

Austria fail to deep with a deep free-kick pumped into their box. Zlatan gets up and wins the first header at the far post, knocking it toward Zengin, who takes it delightfully on his chest before volleying the ball hard inside the near post. That’s a class finish. What a start to the match!

Tonight’s first email from Will W. “John Terry’s ‘waistcoat’ looks more like a cardigan to me. Not a good look either way and his trousers looked creased. Very awkward looking too.”

GOAL! Austria 1-0 Sweden (Alaba pen 7)

Sunderland’s Seb Larsson handles very clumsily inside his own box, and Alaba sends Isaksson the wrong way from 12 yards, into the top right corner! The atmosphere in Austria is absolutely rocking – Austria/Swedish fans, how much of a rivalry is this for you? It looks very fierce out there!

I’m expecting Ukraine to come out all guns blazing tonight. They remain an excellent outfit – this is their first competitive fixture since they suffered a narrow defeat World Cup play-off defeat to France in November.

They’ve settle into possession nicely, although no chances as yet.

Peeep! We’re off!

Tonight is also Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 100th Sweden appearance. He scored his 50th goal for his country against Estonia on Thursday, and has promised a lot more. Let’s hope he keeps his word. Sweden are in Austria tonight, who have Bayern Munich’s David Alaba and Stoke City’s Marko Arnautovic in their starting XI.

This is the line-up.

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Mirko Vucinic will be the chief threat for Montenegro tonight in their opener against Moldova. Stefan Jovetic is out injured remember with a hamstring strain.

John Terry is in the Sky studio tonight, sporting a terrible waistcoat. He looks like he’s off to a wedding.

He’s been commenting on Chelsea team-mate Cesc Fabregas, who starts for Spain tonight, and Diego Costa, who doesn’t – out injured.

“Diego Costa has settled in really well without speaking a word of English,” parps Terry. He’s not wrong, my tip for the Premier League’s Golden Boot this season, and might be fit to play Swansea this weekend.

Spain start tonight with lone striker Pablo Alcacer up top, who is making just his second international appearance tonight. Fernando Torres nowhere to be seen.

Spain: Casillas, Juanfran, Sergio Ramos, Albiol, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Fabregas, Koke, Pedro, Alcacer, Silva. Subs: Casilla, Azpilicueta, Bartra, Raul Garcia, Iturraspe, San Jose, Munir, Cazorla, Isco, De Gea.

Macedonia: Pacovski, Ristovski, Mojsov, Sikov, Cuculi, Alioski, Ibraimi, Spirovski, Trajkovski, Abdurahimi, Jahovic. Subs: Naumovski, Todorovski, Damcevski, Demiri, Hasani, Darko Velkovski, Krste Velkovski, Radeski, Glisic, Ristevski, Kostovski, Bogatinov.

Referee: Tasos Sidiropoulos (Greece)

There has already been one result from Russia tonight. The hosts beat Liechtenstein 4-0 to take their place at the top of Group G. With Austria, Montenegro and Sweden the other contenders, it is a group without a clear favourite and I’m expecting that to be very tight by the end of qualification. Excellent result for Russia. Fabio Capello is (somehow) still in charge there remember, after a poor World Cup.

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Preamble

Tonight’s Euro 2016 qualifier fixture list has thrown together a who’s who of Europe’s minnows, intermixed with a dangerous teams higher up the food chain, each with high ambitions of taking their place for the tournament in France in two years time.

We’re going to be focusing mainly on Spain v Macedonia, but will of course bring you all the goal action from the rest of tonight’s games:

Group C

Spain v Macedonia

Luxembourg v Belarus

Ukraine v Slovakia

Group E (for England’s group)

Estonia v Slovenia

San Marino v Lithuania

Group E

Austria v Sweden

Montenegro v Moldova

ZLATAN! INIESTA! ALABA! WOOF!

For the most part, it’s football as you’ve never seen it before (literally). Football hipsters this is your time to shine. How many Moldovan away kits have you got kicking around your bedroom at home? Who is the next big Luxemborgian star? Have Estonia got the next Lionel Messi/Mart Poom lurking in their midst? We asked football-brain-in-a-box Jonathan Wilson for his contributions, but he is too busy laying out a complicated chips-and-dip-combo in front of his multi-screen cinema in his underground bunker in preparation for the big evening. The internet and phone reception is terrible down there anyway, he’s a hard man to get hold of. So it’s down to you readers (and me) to bring these qualifiers to life.

Join me. It’ll be an education for us all.

Kick offs: 7.45pm BST

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