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Wins for France, Spain and England as big guns avoid slip-ups

world cup qualifiers europe group i albania v england
England maintained their winning start to the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a comfortable win in Albania

France, Spain and England all enjoyed wins in World Cup qualifying on Sunday while Denmark smashed eight past Moldova.

Italy and Germany are in action later on Sunday and will be hoping that the absence of major upsets continues in the race for places in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

World champions France, who had made a stuttering start to qualifying with Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Ukraine, got their first win of the campaign by beating Kazakhstan 2-0 in Nur-Sultan.

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele broke the deadlock in the 20th minute with a right-footed shot after being set up by Anthony Martial following a defence-splitting pass from Paul Pogba.

Les Bleus doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime when Sergiy Maliy headed a cross into his own net.

France were in comfortable control of the game and should have added a third in the 76th minute, but Kylian Mbappe’s penalty was saved by Aleksandr Mokin.

France moved top of the standings with four points, ahead of Bosnia, who they face away on Wednesday, Ukraine and Finland.

It was a more nervous affair for Spain who needed a stoppage time goal from striker Dani Olmo to grab a 2-1 win away to Georgia.

After being held 1-1 at home to Greece in their opener on Thursday, the Spanish fell behind two minutes before the interval.

Georgia thrilled the 15,000 fans in the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena when 20-year-old winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia fired them ahead after his side had coasted past a passive visiting defence.

Spain were on course for their first defeat in a World Cup qualifier in 28 years until Ferran Torres levelled in the 56th, sliding in to send a Jordi Alba cross into the roof of the net after Alvaro Morata had failed to connect with the ball.

Luis Enrique’s side pressed for a winner right until the end and finally found one when Olmo let fly from long range and although goalkeeper Giorgi Loria got a hand to the shot it dropped just under the crossbar and into the net.

Georgia’s frustration was added to when Levan Shengelia was sent off in the final seconds.

Harry Kane scored his first England goal since 2019 to lead his side to a comfortable 2-0 win against Albania in Group I.

Albania initially made things difficult for England but once skipper Kane headed home in the 38th minute, a fine angled header from a Luke Shaw cross, it was a relatively uncomplicated for Gareth Southgate’s team.

Kane also hit the woodwork, as did Phil Foden, before midfielder Mason Mount doubled England’s lead just past the hour mark with a deft finish from Kane’s pass.

England top the standings with six points from two games ahead of their home clash with most-likely group rivals Poland at Wembley on Wednesday.

Denmark have six points from their opening two games and a handsome plus 10 goal difference after crushing Moldova 8-0, their record win in major tournament qualifying.

Five goals in a 21 minute spell in the first-half did the damage, as the Danes ran away with the game — Sampdoria’s Mikkel Damsgaard and Kasper Dolberg both scoring twice.

Italy are at Bulgaria and Germany travel to Romania later on Sunday. (

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