Wales 3-1 Finland, Israel 1-0 Scotland and more: Nations League – as it happened

Wales 3-1 Finland, Israel 1-0 Scotland and more: Nations League – as it happened

18-Nov-2020 22:04:38 | Guardian

Wales overcome Finland with ease to reach Europe’s top tier but Scotland’s hopes of another magical night are dashed in Israel

Here is a roundup for you.

Related: Wales climb into Nations League top tier with victory over 10-man Finland

I’m going to leave you all in peace now. Thanks for your company – it’s been ... hectic! See you all again in March, no doubt, when we’ve the trifling matter of a World Cup qualifying triple header to see us all through. Here is Louise Taylor on Israel v Scotland to keep you going:

Related: Israel's Solomon strikes to thwart Scotland's bid to top group

Group 1 – Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-2 Italy; Poland 1-2 Netherlands

Ok, full results and ramifications coming up ...

Likewise, I think.

I get the impression that the less said about this, the better.

Goal! Austria 1-1 Norway. That will do for Austria, who equalise in the 94th minute through Adrian Grbic.

Because the Czechs won 2-0 against Slovakia, Scotland finish up second. Can’t win them all.

Marciano saves *again*, this time from a vicious Griffiths free-kick, and Scotland could carry on all night without ... etcetera and so forth.

The Liverpool man sharply glances home a corner at the near post and the Netherlands turn it around!

Scotland just cannot beat Marciano, who makes a brilliant low save to prevent a Dasa own goal.

Goal! Hungary 2-o Turkey. Varga runs clear, a full 80 yards, in added time to lash in his first-ever international goal from the edge of the box and send Hungary into the top tier of European football!

Heartbreak for the hosts, as Bicfalvi polishes off a Tanase cross.

Rapid-fire trading of blows in Belgium. De Bruyne’s, running around the ball to play a beautiful, technically perfect finish beyond Schmeichel at the far post, is an absolute gem.

And now Griffiths snatches at a really good chance in the box. That would have made things very interesting ... but it’s just not happening.

The sub Scott McKenna seems for a moment to have headed Scotland back into contention but in fact his header has grazed the side netting.

Doubts banished! James makes brilliant, searing ground down the left and stands up the sort of cross that Moore, the towering centre-forward, simply can’t resist bulleting into the net. Wales deserve this margin of victory.

I say that, but Pukki immediately thwacks a post at the other end ...

It’s pretty academic but does mean the Netherlands probably maintain second spot.

The only real dramatic tension, as games approach their final five minutes, is in B1 and B3. In the latter a late salvo for Turkey would get them out of relegation trouble and perhaps even get them up. In B1 another Norway goal would break Austrian hearts.

Marshall saves from Weissman as the Israel forward sees the whites of his eyes. The hosts could easily have added to their lead, it must be said.

I hate to be a killjoy but I don’t think Scotland are going to pull through tonight. No biggie, in the context of last week, obviously but it would have been an excellent bonus. They continue to search for a goal but need two and the chances, which had been coming, have dried up a bit.

I don’t care what anyone says about Lukaku, he is absolutely brilliant and he’s just got another. That wraps it up for Belgium.

Goal! Serbia 5-0 Russia. Filip Mladenovic piles on the agony for Russia. And also, as things stand, for Turkey. It’s an emphatic, rasping left-footed strike.

Finland are having a go at Wales now, Hamalainen forcing a smart save from Ward. It wouldn’t be Wales without a few jitters. Meanwhile Turkey scream for a penalty in Hungary, but nothing doing.

That eliminates any remaining doubt in A1. Italy will win it. Poland still lead the Netherlands and are in line to finish runners-up. It’s a lovely goal too, Berardi executing a difficult volley after a cute lofted pass from Locatelli.

Goal! Austria 0-1 Norway. Zahid scores for Norway and that’s quite remarkable given the makeshift side they’ve had to send out there. Norway still need one more to win the group but that’s really tightened it up – and isn’t a good look for an experienced Austria team.

Now then. Pukki, who had missed a chance early in the half, finishes clinically from an angle and suddenly Finland’s 10 men have given Wales, who were sitting pretty, a little problem. They still need to win the game though.

It won’t help their wider cause but Boyce gives Northern Ireland some cheer!

Goal: Czech Republic 2-0 Slovakia. That is bad news for Scotland, who will surely need to score twice without reply now. Zdenek Ondrasek has doubled the Czechs’ lead.

Ollie McBurnie replaces Lyndon Dykes as Scotland switch things up in attack. Leigh Griffiths is on too as far as I can see.

Israel v Scotland looks insanely open at the moment – and for Scotland I guess it needs to be.

Goal! Hungary 1-0 Turkey. Siger David breaks the deadlock in Budapest and that means Hungary go top while Turkey, who can go top themselves with a win, slide to the bottom of B3! Crazy stuff. Hungary are on the brink of League A ...

That might do it for Belgium. Tielemans is alert to take a quick, short free-kick to De Bruyne with Denmark dithering. A tight game is now unlocked and De Bruyne can use the space to slip in Lukaku, whose effort is half-saved by Schmeichel but loops up and in despite the efforts of a despairing defender.

McGinn now forces a sharp save from Marciano from an angle. Meanwhile Wales are still pressing for a third. Plenty more goals left in the evening, you fancy ...

Dasa diverts what looked a goalbound McTominay header behind as Scotland push for that leveller.

What a strike from Dan James! He picks the ball up in a pocket of space 25 yards out, takes it on a step or two and fairly smacks one into Hradecky’s top corner. That was a vicious, scintillating finish and Wales – up against 10 men and playing relentlessly – are heading for the top tier ... and perhaps more.

Zahavi shoots a whisker wide for Israel with a whipped, first-time effort. Scotland could have been pretty much buried there.

Another deep breath ...

So Scotland really need something – either to score twice, win and eliminate any doubt, or to hope the Czechs surrender their lead in Plzen. Scotland would pip Czech Republic on head to head.

The crazy group B3, which has three possible winners and a live relegation battle, is one to keep a real eye on in the next 45 minutes. As is England’s group, with Denmark seeking a group-topping winner in Belgium.

That Serbia 4-0 Russia score is a bit nuts, isn’t it? Bet Scotland are glad they caught them last week. Serbia are a great shout for most frustrating international team in Europe. So much talent, yet ...

“I’ve seen some footage of the Gibraltar team celebrating their promotion last night. It was brilliant! It’s what the Nations League is all about. Long may it continue!” writes Paulo Biriani.

Wales 1-0 Finland

Israel 1-0 Scotland

JR has sent us “Talking points from the first half in Dublin.” The email is blank.

Big, big trouble for Scotland now as Solomon looks inside, then checks outside, and slips a superb finish across Marshall. That was a fine bit of play. You can’t say you were not warned:

Related: Israel's Manor Solomon downed Real Madrid … now Scotland are in his sights | Will Unwin

Goal! Serbia 3-0 Russia. Dusan Vlahovic has surely got Serbia home and hosed, although they need Turkey to lose for it to make a difference for them at the bottom. Group B3, which looked so tight at the outset, is a real treat.

Big miskick by Turkey’s Tufan in Budapest, right in front of goal. That one’s heating up very nicely – if Turkey win it’s all there for them.

And a big let-off for Scotland, the usually clinical Zahavi running free for Israel but choosing to check inside when the chance was on and seeing the ball get away. At the other end, McGregor escapes down the left but can’t quite locate a teammate.

Graeme Thorn writes:

“The Nations League does something that’s been lacking from European international competitions for a while: providing frequent genuinely competitive football for those towards the bottom of the pile. It can’t have been much fun for Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein and the rest to constantly face teams superior to them, where their best hope would be to try to nab a 0-0 or avoid getting completely thrashed.”

Rhys Norrington-Davies skies one for Wales from a good position at the far post. They are well in control, a goal up against 10 men, but a second would really see this one through.

Israel’s Dasa whips a sensational cross beyond all his teammates as Scotland are caught napping. That one is on a knife-edge.

Goal! Kosovo 1-0 Moldova. Lirim Kastrati gives Kosovo daylight in the VC3 basement battle.

Flying save from the Israel goalkeeper Marciano! It’s a lovely flicked header from John McGinn, and it’s dipping into the corner before the custodian paws it away. Scotland looking much the better there, with Ryan Christie really driving things, but they need a goal.

Norway’s scratch team is currently holding its own in Austria, but remember they need to win that game.

It was coming! And that’s a huge goal. Wales build up patiently, Bale eventually gets a bit of a lucky bobble but recovers possession to cutely slip in Wilson, who sweeps in on the run from 12 yards!

Now then. The Danes are now right back in it with a smart header from Jonas Wind!

O’Donnell slashes well wide from an inviting position for Scotland. Meanwhile Wales are peppering Hradecky’s goal – I make that three really good saves now, the latest from Bale at point blank range, but it’s still goalless.

Goal! Serbia 2-0 Russia. And it’s Luka Jovic – he can’t do much right for Real Madrid but, after mightily inconveniencing Scotland last week, he’s at it again. Hungary and Turkey are now effectively playing off for control of B3 unless this turns around.

Belotti converts a pass from Lorenzo Insigne and, if it stays like this, Italy go through regardless of what happens in Poland v Netherlands.

Massive boost for Wales a few minutes ago – Uronen got a straight red for a professional foul, grappling with Wilson as he ran onto a long clearance, and Finland are down to 10!

Alex Robert Ross corrects me:

“I think today’s game between Armenia and North Macedonia was played in Nicosia, not Yerevan, as a result of the conflict in the South Caucasus. In return for this information, is there any way that you could explain how on Earth the Nations League/World Cup play-off system is supposed to work in this instance? Just when I think I understand it, I end up utterly lost.”

Goal! Serbia 1-0 Russia. Nemanja Radonjic scores for Serbia, giving them hope of escaping the drop in group B3. Hungary, drawing 0-0 with Turkey, leapfrog the Russians at the top as things stand.

Another goal! Czech Republic 1-0 Slovakia. That’s in Scotland’s group and it’s scored by West Ham’s excellent Tomas Soucek. It has ramifications: the Czechs now top the group as things stand, meaning Scotland will need the win.

Bale has just thumped a free-kick straight at the Finland goalkeeper Hradecky. In Israel, Scotland mount some pressure but a corner is headed clear.

Now this is interesting – the Derby winger Jozwiak pounces to put Poland in, errrm, pole position to capitalise should Italy slip up in Bosnia. In fact I’ve just seen the goal and he did more than pounce: it was a weaving, beguiling solo run down the left and an ice-cool finish!

Ryan Christie has fired not too far over from range for Scotland, whose game in Israel has otherwise looked cagey early doors.

And Ben Macfarlane writes in too:

“Huge game for Scotland tonight! For a country that’s struggled to build momentum for the last twenty years, it’s so important for us to follow up the Euro qualification with a playoff place at the WC. These players need to taste continued success if we have any hope of building on the game against Serbia. Performances are getting better every game, the icing on the cake would be putting away a typically stubborn Israel side that we know like the back of our hand.”

JR in Illinois writes:

“As an Ireland supporter I’ll be watching their game against Bulgaria. This game means nothing at all to me. I don’t really care one way or another if Ireland get relegated to League C.
I think it’s farcical that these international games are even being played. I guess I’m watching for four reasons:
1) To see if Ireland can do another goal 2) To hopefully see Troy Parrott play for a few minutes 3) Because the darts are over for the day 4) I’d rather watch the game than do something productive.”

Early chance for Gareth Bale after Finland get into a mess at the back, but his shot from an angle is parried and Wales are denied a dream start.

I like the Nations League a lot. Ok, there are very good arguments against this particular international break happening. But putting that aside, it was all going very well indeed in the pre-Covid era, I felt. Games laden with meaning and some genuinely entertaining football, too. Nothing feels the same at the moment, of course, and these games are no different. But it’s a Good Thing. Here endeth the lesson.

Belgium are on their way to the finals already! It’s a raking, crisp 25-yard drive from Youri Tielemans past his Leicester teammate Kasper Schmeichel, and Group A2 now looks on far less of a knife-edge. The Danes had started brightly but that was a fantastic strike.

If you’re after England v Iceland, by the way, Scott Murray has that for you.

Related: England v Iceland: Nations League – live updates!

Anthems sung, whistles blown, and away we go across Europe!

I’ll be focusing on the Wales and Scotland matches on a screen apiece, and then using another to flit between the others. And maybe another too! That’s a glimpse beneath the bonnet for you. So if you’re watching one of the less-feted games and want to add your take on what’s going on, let’s crowdsource this. The email address is above and I’d love to hear what tonight means to you and why.

Republic of Ireland team news:

STARTING XI | Ireland v Bulgaria

Congratulations to Ryan Manning who makes his first appearance for the senior squad tonight

James Collins, Ronan Curtis & Daryl Horgan start as the front three as Jason Knight starts in the midfield #COYBIG | #IRLBUL

The Northern Ireland team:

Your Northern Ireland starting XI to face Romania #GAWA

The Scotland team:

Your Scotland team taking on Israel in our final UEFA #NationsLeague match.#ISRSCO

Here is the Wales team for tonight:


Gorau Chwarae Cyd Chwarae #TogetherStronger | #NationsLeague

Cannot understate the importance of Wales v Finland tomorrow.

If proj. group winners France , Belgium , Spain , Italy finish top 2 in their qualifying groups, the group winner (Wales or Finland) goes to the World Cup Playoffs.

A 4 team tournament to the World Cup

Talking of Scotland – Will Unwin has teed you up for tonight’s showdown by interviewing Manor Solomon, who may well prove a menace for their hosts, Israel.

Related: Israel's Manor Solomon downed Real Madrid … now Scotland are in his sights | Will Unwin

I say topping the group helps the likes of Albania and Armenia ... but it’s actually of even more interest to Scotland and Wales I reckon. They have third place in a World Cup group written all over them – so if they can top their League B groups I think they’d be in with very strong shouts for the play-offs. Laugh ye not: tonight could be one of massive consequence for the next couple of years.

Why is it so important to top your group? Well, you win promotion – or get to the finals if it’s in League A. But there’s something else: the best two group winners that go on to finish outside the top two of their World Cup qualifying group will enter the play-offs for World Cup qualification. It’s all very convoluted and goodness knows how that all pans out, with the World Cup draw not made til early next month – but on the face of things it gives your Albanias and Armenias a genuine shot at being two games from Qatar 2022.

They’re really going for it with the celebrations in Yerevan after Armenia’s win. This is what’s good about the Nations League – it gives that extra bit of hope and meaning to countries that, certainly on the football pitch, were always banging their head against a brick wall.

Other games have already happened today. In group C4, Albania beat Belarus 3-2 and are promoted to the second tier. Lithuania won 2-1 in Kazakhstan with a dramatic late goal so it’s the Kazakhs who must play off to avoid relegation.

In group C2, Armenia have just beaten Euro 2020 qualifiers North Macedonia 1-0 – meaning they top the group and get promoted, too!


You ready? Sure? We have ... a lot of Nations League football to take in tonight before this frenetic week of international action takes its leave. It’s the final round of fixtures in the 2020 edition and fortunately there is lots and lots to play for. Let’s get straight down to the nitty gritty with the fixtures, permutations and ramifications.

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