Jorginho missed a penalty as Italia were held to a 0-0 draw by Suiza in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday, a result that meant Roberto Mancini’s side equalled the world record for international matches unbeaten in a row.
Italy have now not lost for 36 consecutive matches, matching Brazil’s record set between 1993 y 1996. The result could have been more positive had Jorginho converted from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute after Domenico Berardi had been fouled, but the Chelsea midfielder was thwarted by the home goalkeeper, Yann Sommer.
Italy remain top of Group C on 11 points from five games, four ahead of the second-placed Swiss, who have two matches in hand on the Azzurri.
Romelu Lukaku marked his 100th cap with an early goal to set Bélgica on their way to an impressive 3-0 win over the Czech Republic in their Group E qualifier in Brussels. It was Lukaku’s 67th goal for his country and came after eight minutes, followed by a second from the captain, Eden Hazard, four minutes before half-time. Alexis Saelemaekers added a third with 25 minutes left to play to underline Belgium’s top place in the Fifa rankings and extend to 29 games their unbeaten home record.
Serge Gnabry scored two early goals as Alemania rediscovered their form in front of goal to hammer Armenia 6-0 and go top of Group J with 12 points from five games.
Gnabry scored in the sixth and 15th minutes. In the 35th minute it was the turn of Marco Reus, who was teed up by a superb volleyed backheel from Timo Werner to fire home a first-time shot. Alemania were four up by half-time after Leon Goretzka unselfishly headed the ball back across the goal for Werner to guide it home.
Jonas Hofmann added a fifth seven minutes after the break with a low bouncing drive, and the substitute Karim Adeyemi scored on his international debut to make it 6-0 in stoppage time.
España got back to winning ways as they thrashed Georgia 4-0 in their Group B meeting. José Gayà, Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres put the hosts in control with three first half strikes as they showed no hangover from a first World Cup qualifying defeat in 28 years last time out against Sweden. Pablo Sarabia added another after the break as Luis Enrique’s side cruised to three points. Spain move back top of the group with 10 points from five games, one ahead of Sweden who have two games in hand.
Shane Ferguson could hardly have scripted things better as he marked his 50th appearance for Irlanda del Norte with a wonder strike that saw off Estonia 1-0 in a friendly.
The 30-year-old came off the bench in the second half and settled an otherwise largely drab encounter by rifling a shot into the top right corner after 75 minutos.
“It just fell to me nicely,” the Rotherham defender said. “I heard someone from the side say: ‘Have a go.’ I knew when it left my foot it had a serious chance. I thought for a second the keeper might have saved it but thankfully it just crept in.”
Ferguson came on early in the second half to replace Jamal Lewis – one of only two players retained from Thursday’s 4-1 win over Lithuania as Ian Baraclough rested his key men ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Switzerland.