• Top lists

World Cup round-up: Bale’s treble delight, South American mayhem, Lukaku & Italy make history

Jesse Lingard, Gareth Bale, Lionel Messi, Neymar, World Cup
Getty Images

After another action and drama-packed weekend of football, Ace Football lists the talking points from the recent 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Bale scores a hat-trick for Wales

Two penalties and an injury-time winner saw Gareth Bale complete his hat-trick and bag Wales a crucial 3-2 win in Belarus.

The captain scored the opening goal and came to the rescue in the second half to draw Wales back on level terms with a second penalty before squirming a low shot under Belarus goalkeeper Sergei Chernik in injury time.

Bale’s match-winning hat-trick has moved Wales to within a single point of second-placed Czech Republic in Group E. The Dragons have two games in hand, meaning a World Cup playoff spot is very much up for grabs.

England make easy work of Andorra

The Three Lions predictably cruised to a 4-0 win over Andorra at Wembley to make it five wins out of five in Group I.

Gareth Southgate made 11 changes from the squad that defeated Hungary 4-0 last week. Jesse Lingard scored a goal in both halves and Harry Kane bagged a penalty. Meanwhile, Bukayo Saka marked his first appearance at Wembley since missing the decisive penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy in style. The winger, who also celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday, scored a neat header and chipped in an assist.

Lukaku enters the Belgium history books…again

Romelu Lukaku became the sixth Belgian to win 100 caps for the national team in a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic.

The Chelsea striker celebrated the milestone by scoring his 67th international goal. Eden Hazard later bagged his first Belgium goal since November 2019 before a neat flick from Lukaku set up Alexis Saelemaekers for another goal.

Belgium sit on top of Group E on 13 points from five games, six points clear of the second-placed Czech Republic.

Germany put six goals past Armenia

Timo Werner found the back of the net for the second time in as many games as Hansi Flick continued his winning start as Germany manager.

Die Mannschaft predictably cruised to a 6-0 win in Stuttgart on Sunday to leapfrog Armenia as the new Group J leaders.

Spain get their groove back

After a first World Cup qualifying defeat in 28 years last week to Sweden, Spain smashed Georgia 4-0 in their latest Group B encounter on Sunday.

Jose Gaya, Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres handed La Roja a 3-0 lead before the break. Pablo Sarabia added another in the second half to ensure a comfortable victory.

Luis Enrique’s side have moved back on top of Group B on 10 points from five games. That said, Sweden, who lie a point behind in second-place, do have two games in hand.

Italy equal unbeaten international record

Italy equaled the international record of 36 unbeaten games in an otherwise dull 0-0 draw in Switzerland.

The Euro 2020 winners were mostly the better side in Basel but were wasteful in front of the goal. Nevertheless, Roberto Mancini’s side sit on top of Group C with 10 points. But Switzerland, who sit four points behind in second place, still have two games in hand.

COVID-19 mayhem postpones Brazil vs Argentina

Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch in Sunday’s World Cup qualifying showdown between Brazil and Argentina to stop it.

The dramatic intervention at the Corinthians Arena came after Brazil’s health authorities said four English-based Argentina players had to quarantine. These players were not named. Although it’s likely they were referring to Aston Villa pair Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, as well as Tottenham duo Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero.

No date has been set for a rematch between Brazil and Argentina yet.

San Marino get a first World Cup qualifying goal in 8 years

San Marino may have lost 7-1 on Sunday, but at least their eight-year goal drought in World Cup qualifiers has ended.

Nicola Nanni, one of few professional footballers from the country, scored the goal just three minutes in the second half. Otherwise, Poland had no trouble whatsoever. The Eagles cruised to a convincing win with four different goalscorers.