Euro 2020 qualifiers: Georginio Wijnaldum strikes for Netherlands

Guardian sport


The Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum scored a rare goal as the Netherlands began their European Championship qualifying campaign in style with a 4-0 win over Belarus.

The former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay had given them the perfect start when he opened the scoring in the first minute before making the result safe with a penalty in the 55th. And there was even time for Wijnaldum’s Anfield teammate Virgil van Dijk to head home after Depay’s 86th-minute corner as Netherlands cruised home.

The World Cup finalists Croatia opened up with a 2-1 home win over Azerbaijan but only after being rescued by Andrej Kramaric’s strike with 11 minutes left on the clock. Ramil Seydaev had given the visitors a shock lead after 19 minutes and they held on until just before the break when Borna Barisic broke their resistance. Then, with the home crowd becoming ever-more frustrated, Kramaric pounced.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scored twice as Belgium saw off Russia 3-1. The playmaker scored from the spot after Russia had equalised Youri Tielemans’ 14th-minute opener. Denis Cheryshev took full advantage of a Thibaut Courtois error to make it 1-1 two minutes after Tielemans’s goal. Hazard restored Belgium’s lead after he was brought down just before half-time and made it safe two minutes from time.

The substitute Krzysztof Piatek emerged from the bench to fire Poland to a 1-0 win in Austria. Less than 10 minutes after replacing Piotr Zielinski Piatek scored from close range to secure the points.

Macedonia were 3-1 winners against Latvia. Goals from the Leeds winger Ezgjan Alioski and the teenager Elif Elmas put the hosts two up inside half an hour before late drama saw Macedonia’s Krste Velkoski score an own goal. Latvia’s Andrejs Ciganiks was then sent off and Elmas made sure of the points with his second.

In the same group, Israel and Slovenia played out a 1-1 draw, while Cyprus were the biggest winners of the day, defeating San Marino 5-0.