England and Turkiye scored maximum points from their two group qualifying games this month, allowing them to go into the summer break as leaders in their respective Eur0 2024 groups.
England were in cruise control in both games, putting four past Malta on Friday, followed by seven against North Macedonia – a team which had knocked Italy out of the World Cup play-offs last year.
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (pictured below) scored the first hattrick of his career in England’s thumping victory against North Macedonia, with a brace from Harry Kane and a goal each from Marcus Rashford and Kalvin Phillips.
Kane, England’s all-time leading goal scorer, took his international tally to 58 goals after scoring in both games. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold – who started in central midfield – also got on the score sheet against Malta, scoring a fine 25-yard strike, while Newcastle’s Callum Wilson added England’s fourth from the penalty spot.
The results give England have a maximum of 12 points from their first four Euro qualifiers, comfortably topping Group C. Ukraine are second with 6 points from three games, while Italy are third with three points from two games.
Turkiye’s two games, against Latvia and Wales, were more pulsating affairs and the Turks, led by German coach Stefan Kuntz, were delighted to win both.
It was end-to-end stuff against Latvia, who proved tougher opponents than many had expected. Turkiye went ahead with a goal from Abdülkerim Bardakcı on the 22nd minute. Latvia equalised through Eduards Emsis after half time (51′) before Marseille midfielder Cengiz Ünder put the Turks ahead 10 minutes later.
The Turks thought they had the game in the bag against their opponents who were down to 10 men after Emsis was sent off for a second yellow after a dangerous tackle, but Latvia had other thoughts. Captain Kristers Tobers scored deep into injury time to level the match in Riga, but the home team’s celebrations were cut short by Fenerbahçe midfielder İrfan Can Kahveci (pictured top), who headed in the winner a minute later.
On Monday, Turkiye hosted Wales in Samsun, who proved tougher opponents; they were well organised and in battling mood after losing 2-4 to Armenia at home on Friday. However, the game shifted after Joe Morrell was shown a straight red card by referee Fabio Maresca for his dangerously high tackle on Ferdi Kadıoğlu just before half time.
The visitors were on the back foot for much of the second half. They conceded a penalty after Aaron Ramsey handled in the box, but Hakan Çalhanoğlu failed to convert, placing the ball close enough to goalkeeper Danny Ward to save.
A VAR decision ruled out a goal from Turkish substitute Umut Nayir for controlling the ball with his arm. But they could do nothing when he rose to head in on the 72nd minute.
Eight minutes later, another substitute, Fenerbahçe’s teenage wonderkid Arda Güler scored a magnificent goal, curling a shot from the edge of the Wales box into the top corner, to put the game beyond the visitor’s reach.
Turkiye’s two June wins leave the topping Group D with 9 points from four games. Armenia move up to second with 6 points from three games, while Croatia and Wales tie on 4 points, but Croatia have only played two games to Wales four.
Scotland made it three wins out of three in their Euro 2024 qualifiers, beating both Norway and Georgia over the past three days.
The Scots secured an impressive 2-1 away from home in Oslo on Saturday, where a penalty from Man City and Norway’s goalscoring machine Erling Haaland – his 53rd goal of the season – was not enough to beat them.
Scotland were also triumphant against Georgia, winning 2-0 at Hampden Park on Tuesday night with goals from Callum McGregor and Scott McTominay.
Azerbaijan scored their first point of the Euro 2024 campaign, drawing at home with fellow strugglers Estonia in their Group F clash. The group includes leaders Austria, Belgium and Sweden.
Northern Ireland will be disappointed after losing both their June Group H games by a single goal, away to Denmark on Friday night and at home to Kazakhstan on Monday.
Friday 16 June 2023
Malta 0 v 4 England (Group C)
Latvia 2 v 3 Turkiye (Group D)
Wales 2 v 4 Armenia (Group D)
Denmark 1 v 0 Northern Ireland (Group H)
Saturday 17 June
Norway 1 v 2 Scotland (Group A)
Azerbaijan 1 v 1 Estonia (Group F)
Monday 19 June
England 7 v 0 North Macedonia (Group C)
Turkiye 2 v 0 Wales (Group D)
Northern Ireland 0 v 1 Kazakhstan (Group H)
Tuesday 20 June
Scotland 2 v 0 Georgia 19:45 (Group A)