UEFA Nations League scores: Sergio Ramos misses two penalties in Spain draw as Germany take Group A4 top spot

Groups A3 and A4 of the UEFA Nations League brought drama and surprises aplenty as the group stages approach their denouement.

Recap all the action from today’s games in Europe below.

Moreno saves Ramos’ blushes

Sergio Ramos was hardly going to mark his European men’s record 177th cap with a quiet performance but the 35-year-old could scarcely have imagined a worse way to make headlines than by missing two penalties in Spain’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Group A4.

The Swiss may have gone nearly a year without a win but they did not look intimidated by Luis Enrique’s side and spent much of the opening exchanges of the game camped high in the Spanish half. Their opening goal was nothing less than they deserve, a sweeping move that saw Breel Embolo drive down the right and cut back to Remo Freuler, whose elegant shot was always curling away from Unai Simon.

Spain, starting without a recognized striker, dominated possession but all too often in the first half saw their moves run aground on the edge of the Swiss area and while they managed eight shots in before the break, few really tested Yann Sommer. 

The game gravitated towards Ramos as these big occasions seem to and for a while it seemed he would be Spain’s savior, first clearing off the line when Haris Seferovic had rounded goalkeeper Simon. Moments later Ricardo Rodriguez was called for a handball following Ramos’ header but a diving Sommer got enough on the ball to deny the Real Madrid center back a goal on a landmark occasion in his career.

Substitute Alvaro Morata brought more of a focal point to the Spanish attack and won his side their second penalty when he was fouled by Nico Elvedi, who was sent off to set up a grandstand final period. A diabolical second penalty from Ramos, an attempted panenka that rolled tamely to Sommer, seemed to have spoiled their best chance. However, the 89th minute brought a crucial point for Enrique’s side as substitute Gerard Moreno volleyed home Sergio Reguilon’s cross from the left.

The late dropped points for Switzerland do not change the equation for Vladimir Petkovic’s side, who must beat Ukraine or they will drop into League B when the competition resumes in the summer of 2022.

Goretzka shines as Germany fight back

Joachim Low’s side were put through an early test on their way to a 3-1 win over Ukraine that earns them top spot in Group A4 heading into the final round of games.

After defensive chaos in the Germany box the ball came to Roman Yaremchuk, whose rifling shot left Manuel Neuer without a chance of stopping Ukraine from taking the lead. It was one of only two shots Ukraine would manage in the first half, and one of six over the entire match. Still they managed to hold the lead until the 23rd minute when Leon Goretzka won the ball in midfield and slipped through Leroy Sane to equalize.

Before the half was out Germany had the lead in Leipzig. Goretzka was once more the provider, controlling Robin Koch’s lofted through ball and volleying across goal for Timo Werner to head in. The Chelsea striker secured victory just after the hour, finding space near the penalty spot to meet Matthias Ginter’s cutback and hand his side a 3-1 win.

Germany now have nine points to Spain’s eight ahead of the two sides’ meeting in Seville on Tuesday.

Sweden stay alive with Croatia win

Needing a win to stay alive in Group A3 Sweden started in impressive fashion in the Friends Arena and took the lead nine minutes before the interval as Juventus forward Dejan Kulusevski drove low past Dominic Livakovic in the Croatia goal.

The final moments of the first half brought further delight for Janne Andersson’s side as a brilliant cross from 35-year-old vice-captain Sebastian Larsson was turned in by the head of Marcus Danielson.

Croatia were unable to rouse themselves for much of the second half but Danielson deflected a Nikola Vlasic shot past Robin Olsen in the 82nd minute to set up a thrilling finale, one which the Swedes survived to claim their first points of the tournament.

Croatia also beat Sweden 2-1 earlier in the group stages and with both sides tied on goal difference currently hold third place by virtue of their tally of seven goals to the Swedes three. 

It means the margins between the two nations are remarkably tight before the final round of fixtures, where Croatia host Portugal on November 17 whilst Sweden travel to France.

Kante secures group for France

N’Golo Kante’s second international goal was the unlikely means of victory for France, a side that had found Rui Patricio utterly implacable for much of their Nations League tie. The Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper had denied Anthony Martial on multiple occasions as well as Paul Pogba, seemingly doing enough to send Group A3 into the final round of fixtures.

However Patricio could only parry Adrien Rabiot’s low second half shot into the path of Kante, a surprise presence in the penalty area who had avoided the attention of the Portuguese defence. Hugo Lloris was perhaps as impressive in the France goal, saving brilliantly from Joao Moutinho after Cristiano Ronaldo’s dangerous run.

France’s win guarantees that they will top Group A3 and will qualify for October’s four team finals.

The lower leagues

Luxembourg’s impressive rise from European whipping boys to a competitive nation seemed to be continuing when they took an early lead in Cyprus, Ioannis Kousoulos turning Edvin Muratovic’s shot into his own net. The Red Lions looked to be composed in possession with Dynamo Kyiv forward Gerson Rodrigues a menace in the final third.

However the game turned on a foul by Vahid Selimovic on Cyprus forward Marios Ilia in the penalty area for which the Luxembourg defender controversially saw red. Grigoris Kastanos equalized from the penalty spot and scored the winner in the 71st minute.

In Group C1’s other game Montenegro claimed top spot with a 0-0 draw in Azerbaijan. They will earn promotion to League B with a win against Cyprus whilst a draw or defeat will be enough if Luxembourg lose at home to the Azeris.

Cyprus must win in Montenegro if they are are to avoid a relegation playoff to League D.

Meanwhile in the bottom tier of the Nations League Latvia drew 1-1 with the Faroe Islands, who can earn promotion from Group D1 if they win or draw in Malta. Defeat by a one goal margin would even be enough if they score three or more.


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