Round-up: Gibraltar's debut ends in seven-goal loss

 

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Gibraltar’s first competitive game was a one-sided affair last night, as they were thumped 7-0 by Poland in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier.

Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski scored four as the visitors moved to the top of Group D – level with fellow victors Germany and the Republic of Ireland. Kamil Grosicki added a further two and Lukasz Szukala also got onto the scoresheet at the Estadio Do Algarve, in Faro, Portugal.

Gibraltar, a country with a population of around 30,000, were accepted by the European governing body in May 2013. Their starting eleven included just two full-time players – along with a fireman in goal, a Customs officer at centre-back, a policeman at right wing and a shipping agent playing alone up top.

Poland took the lead after 10 minutes through Grosicki and set the tone for the rest of a very one-sided match. The hosts struggled to maintain composure in front of goal but kept the deficit to just one at the break. Poland host world champions Germany next month, while the Republic welcome Gibraltar.

In Group F, Northern Ireland achieved a first away victory in four years as two late goals earned them a fine 2-1 victory in Hungary to kick-off their campaign with maximum points.

Former Watford and Ipswich forward Tamas Priskin headed the hosts ahead with fifteen minutes remaining only for Michael O’Neill’s side to turn the match around inside the last nine minutes. A fine run and pass by Kyle Lafferty set up Niall McGinn to level before the Norwich City striker scuffing in himself with three minutes left. 

Hungary took time to settle but gradually took charge of proceedings, Roy Carroll making a good stop from Gergo Lovrencsics. The visitors lost both Jamie Ward and Gareth McAuley to injury before the late drama.

Elsewhere in Group F, Finland came from behind to win 3-1 at the Faroe Islands, who travel to Northern Ireland next month, and 2004 winners Greece, managed by former Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri, were beaten 1-0 at home by Romania. Ciprian Marica scoring an early penalty before being sent-off after the interval.

In Group I, favourites Portugal suffered a shock defeat 1-0 defeat at home to Albania, ranked 70th in the world. Captained by Nani in the absence of the injured Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Bento’s side struggled to impose their class and went down to Bekim Bala’s volleyed first goal for his country.

Denmark survived an almighty scare to get their campaign started with a victory, coming from behind to beat Armenia 2-1 in Copenhagen. Morten Olsen’s side were thrashed 4-0 by Armenia, then ranked 89th, last summer, a loss which ultimately put paid to their hopes of reaching this year’s World Cup in Brazil.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan put the away side in front before Bayern Munich’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, a month past his 19th birthday, levelled and Thomas Kahlenberg headed in Bendtner’s cross for the winner.

Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov’s  powerful free-kick gave Serbia a 1-1 friendly draw with France after Paul Pogba’s opener, while Chile and Mexico drew 0-0 in front of 67,000 in  Santa Jose.

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