Five stand-out moments from the weekend’s football.
1 – Sweden beat Italy 1-0
Italy are in danger of missing their first World Cup since 1958 after losing 1-0 to Sweden in the first-leg of their play-off on Friday. Jakob Johansson scored the only goal at the hour mark with a twenty-yard strike deflecting off Daniele de Rossi. Sweden beat out the Netherlands to finish second in their group securing this play-off and put in an energic performance from the off, Italy were often listless and dull. Italy need to win the second-leg on Monday night, but with a 1-0 aggregate lead an away goal from Sweden could make things extremely difficult for them.
2 – Four goals in the last 16-minutes
There were four goals scored in the last 16-minutes of the game when Portsmouth narrowly beat Blackpool 3-2 in League One on Saturday. After a goalless first-half Brett Pitman scored shortly after the restart to give Pompey the lead, but Viv Solomon-Otabor equalised for Blackpool in the 74th minute. Ben Close would be forgiven for thinking he scored the winner when he struck a loose ball from 12-yards out with ten minutes to go, but three minutes later Oliver Hawkins headed a free-kick into his own net. Finally, Pitman stole the win when he netted his second with three minutes left on the clock.
3 – Lukaku equals Belgium’s all-time goal scoring record
Belgium drew 3-3 in a friendly with Mexico on Friday and Romelu Lukaku netted twice to equal Belgium’s all-time goal scoring record. The Manchester United striker forced a save which allowed Eden Hazard to tap in and put his side ahead, but they were level at half-time when Andres Guardado scored from the spot. Lukaku converted a cross after the break to momentarily retake the lead, before a double from Hirving Lozano had Mexico in front. Lukaku scored his 30th Belgium goal in the 70th minute to tie the game and share the record with Bernard Voorhoof and Paul van Himst. The 24-year-old could set a new record in Belgium’s friendly with Japan on Tuesday.
4 – Carlisle beat Yeovil 4-0
Carlisle won 4-0 against Yeovil in League Two on Sunday for what was just their second league win on home soil this season. Results at home have been hard to come by for Carlisle, they hadn’t won a league game in front of the home fans since August and a 3-2 win hosting Oldham in the FA Cup earlier this month is now just one of just three victories at Brunton Park this term. Yeovil, who were unbeaten in their previous four matches including three wins on the spin, went down to ten men after Bevis Mugabi was sent off for a fracas that followed a foul on Luke Joyce.
5 – Heartbreak for Northern Ireland
A 0-0 draw with Switzerland in Basel on Sunday saw Northern Ireland’s hopes of reaching the World Cup in Russia come to an end. Jonny Evans came tantalisingly close to forcing extra time when his header was cleared off the line by Ricardo Rodriguez at the end of the game. It was Rodriguez who the scored the controversial penalty in the first-leg, awarded for a hand ball from Corry Evans despite it clearly striking the back of his shoulder. That decision has played a part in ultimately costing Northern Ireland their first World Cup finals since 1986.