Tooth­less Lions held in Slove­nia

... as de­fend­ing champs Germany cruise to com­fort­able win over North­ern Ire­land

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ENG­LAND LABOURED to a 0-0 draw away to Slove­nia yes­ter­day in their 2018 World Cup qual­i­fier with Wayne Rooney dropped to the bench, while ti­tle-hold­ers Germany re­mained firmly on course for the fi­nals.

Manch­ester City re­ject Joe Hart pro­duced three ter­rific saves to deny Ro­man Bez­jak, Josip Ili­cic and Jas­min Kur­tic, who also hit the post, as Gareth South­gate’s in­ex­pe­ri­enced side clung on des­per­ately for a point in Ljubl­jana to re­main top of Group F.

Jesse Lin­gard’s fierce long-range strike forced Slove­nia goal­keeper Jan Oblak into a sharp stop late on as the stale­mate en­sured both coun­tries main­tained their un­beaten starts to the cam­paign.

Eng­land moved on to seven points af­ter three matches, two more than Slove­nia and Lithua­nia, who de­feated 10-man Malta 2-0 in Vil­nius.

Slo­vakia reg­is­tered their first points with a com­mand­ing 3-0 vic­tory over Scot­land in Tr­nava where Robert Mak scored twice be­fore Adam Ne­mec capped off a mis­er­able evening for Gor­don Stra­chan’s vis­i­tors.

In Hanover, de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Germany swept aside North­ern Ire­land 2-0 with first-half goals from Ju­lian Draxler and Sami Khedira send­ing Joachim Low’s men two points clear in Group C and look­ing omi­nous.

“We’ve done our job, tak­ing six points (this past week) and not con­ced­ing any goals,” said Low.

“We scored our two goals very early and that al­lowed us to win with­out suf­fer­ing.”

Azer­bai­jan ex­tended their un­de­feated run with a hard-fought point in a goal­less draw in the Czech Repub­lic, Robert Prosi­necki’s team a sur­prise sec­ond in the stand­ings fol­low­ing their shock de­feat of Nor­way at the week­end.

The Nor­we­gians were in dan­ger of an­other highly em­bar­rass­ing re­sult at home to San Marino be­fore three goals in the fi­nal 13 min­utes eased ten­sions in Oslo as the hosts won 4-1.

Robert Le­wandowski snatched a dra­matic stop­page-time win­ner as Poland over­come 10-man Ar­me­nia 2-1 in War­saw.

Hrayr Mkoyan’s own goal just af­ter the break gifted Poland the lead, but Ar­me­nia, who played a man down for an hour af­ter the dis­missal of Gael An­do­nian, lev­elled two min­utes later through Mar­cos Pizzelli.

How­ever, Le­wandowski scored for the eighth straight qual­i­fier as he headed in deep into in­jury time to keep Poland level on points with Group E lead­ers Mon­tene­gro, 1-0 win­ners in Den­mark.

Ro­ma­nia are two points off the pace fol­low­ing a 0-0 draw with Kaza­khstan in As­tana. – AFP

Eng­land goal­keeper Joe Hart makes a save dur­ing yes­ter­day’s World Cup 2018 qual­i­fi­ca­tion match against Slove­nia in Ljubl­jana. – AFPPIX

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