World Cup qualifier: Mirko Vucinic strikes late to keep Montenegro on top


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The Independent Football

A late goal from Mirko Vucinic helped Montenegro maintain their two-point lead over England at the top of Group H last night, the Juventus striker scoring with 12 minutes remaining to earn a 1-0 victory in Moldova.

Montenegro were made to work hard for the points in Chisinau ahead of Tuesday’s home match with England. Stevan Jovetic went close to giving the visitors the lead, but the home side threatened through Alexandru Gatcan and Alexandru Dedov.

Milorad Pekovic was dismissed for Montenegro for a second bookable offence on the hour following a poor challenge on Sergei Gheorghiev, ruling the midfielder out of next week’s visit of Roy Hodgson’s side. Despite the inferiorty in numbers, Montenegro took the lead on  78 minutes, Vucinic capitalising after Marko Basa’s knockdown from a corner.

Moldova continued to trouble the leaders, but Montenegro hung on for a fourth consecutive clean sheet in the group and a third away victory in a row. Moldova were also reduced to 10 men, Alexandru Gatcan was dismissed in injury-time.

Elsewhere, previously winless Ukraine surprised Poland 3-1 in Warsaw to move into third place in the group. Mykhaylo Fomenko’s side scored twice in the opening seven minutes through Dynamo Kiev pair Andrei Yarmelenko and Oleg Gusev. Lukasz Piszczek gave the Poles hope on 18 minutes before Roman Zozulya (pictured above) restored Ukraine’s two-goal advantage on half-time.