USA beat Mexico


Second-half substitute Christian Pulisic headed home a cross from Timothy Weah to break a scoreless tie and Weston McKennie slotted home another as the young United States team beat old rival Mexico 2-0 in World Cup qualifying on Friday.

The United States had come out on top in the two most recent meetings between the teams, but the match in Cincinnati was clearly the most important to the U.S. side.

The team is eager to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar and put behind it the humiliating loss it suffered at the hands of Trinidad and Tobago four years ago that kept it from reaching the World Cup in Russia.

With the win, the United States and Mexico now both have 14 points to sit atop the CONCACAF standings, with the U.S. holding a two-point advantage in goal differential.

Canada, which defeated Costa Rica 1-0 on Friday, have 13 points. Panama have 11 and Costa Rica have six to round out the group’s top four.

England thrash Albania

Striker Harry Kane scored a hat trick, including a spectacular overhead kick, as England cruised to a 5-0 victory over Albania at Wembley Stadium on Friday and edged closer to qualification for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Manager Gareth Southgate’s side would have qualified had Poland dropped points against Andorra, but Friday’s result means a draw in their next match against San Marino on Monday will be enough to seal their place at next year’s tournament.

Defender Harry Maguire opened the scoring on nine minutes with a powerful headed strike before celebrating by putting his fingers in his ears.

Kane netted his first of the night shortly after with a tap-in header from inside the six-yard box following a floated cross from midfielder Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool captain then added one of his own minutes later as he jinxed past multiple Albanian defenders before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha.

Kane doubled his tally on 33 minutes, firing home after a swift layoff from winger Raheem Sterling, before sealing a historic hat trick with a superb overhead kick on the stroke of half-time that moves him to level with England legend Jimmy Greaves as the side’s fourth all-time leading scorer.

The 28-year-old now has 44 goals for England alongside Greaves, who died in September aged 81. Wayne Rooney remains the country’s record scorer with 53 goals.

“The first half was an incredible performance. The pressure was on and we needed a result,” Kane, who has scored 12 goals for England this calendar year, said.

“Maybe we had a point to prove and we came out on fire.”

Kane’s performance on Friday was England’s first ‘perfect hat-trick’ — a header, left-foot and right-foot goals – since David Platt accomplished the feat in 1993.

“I thought Harry gave a brilliant centre forward’s performance – held the ball up, played other people in. His all-round game was excellent,” Southgate said.

Both teams stood for a moment of silence before kick-off in tribute to Ron Flowers, a member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad who died on Friday at the age of 87.

Italy draw against Switzerland

Italy midfielder Jorginho blazed a late penalty over the bar as his side were held to a 1-1 draw by Switzerland in their Group C World Cup qualifier at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday, leaving both sides with a chance of automatic qualification for Qatar.

With 15 points from seven games and the winners going through to the finals, Italy top the group on goal difference ahead of the Swiss, with Northern Ireland third on eight points. Italy are away to Northern Ireland in their final qualifier on Monday, while the Swiss host fourth-placed Bulgaria.

“Against Northern Ireland, we start with an advantage, and it’s not a small one,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini told broadcaster RAI.

Switzerland took an early lead when Noah Okafor, making his first start for the national team, teed up full-back Silvan Widmer to fire a piledriver into the back of the net, shocking the home crowd in the 11th minute.

Italy struck back after the half-hour mark through a cleverly-worked free-kick that Giovanni Di Lorenzo headed home. They could have snatched all three points in the final minute of normal time, but Jorginho’s effort from the spot flew high over the bar as the game ended in a draw.

The home side piled on the pressure in the second half, dominating possession but failing to get many decent efforts on target as the Swiss defended doggedly.

Emerson and Federico Chiesa both came close with similar efforts during a frenetic second half, cutting in from the left before firing their shots over.

Italy were given another golden opportunity in the final minute of normal time as a VAR review led to a penalty awarded for a foul on Domenico Berardi by Ulisses Garcia, but Jorginho blasted the ball over the bar as the Swiss escaped with a draw.

“Jorginho felt like taking it [the penalty] and it’s right that he did so, he’s one of the penalty takers on our team… it’s a shame we didn’t score in the second half,”, Mancini said, but it would seem his players have already put the game behind them.

“Now we have to focus on the game on Monday and give everything to win. Jorginho is a great champion and our penalty specialist, we will help him forget about this moment,” Di Lorenzo said.

“We have two days to prepare and we absolutely must take the victory home from Northern Ireland.”


Courtesy: Reuters and ESPN

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