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UEFA Nations League: Home is Where the Win is!


UEFA Nations League: Home is Where the Win is!

UEFA Nations League – League C

It’s home sweet home for the minnows in League C of the UEFA Nations League.

Following their away trip in the opener of the newly created tournament, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Hungary and Montenegro all impressed in their return home for Matchday 2. Scotland, playing for the first time, also opened their campaign in style with a clinical win on their turf.

Serbia would rue the fact that they failed to get all three points in front of their home fans, but they didn’t fail to entertain after leading twice in their meeting with Romania.

Overall, six of the seven League C fixtures this week saw the home team win, while one ended in a draw.

GROUP 1

Albania had high hopes in this game following their spirited performance against Israel last week, but Scotland proved to be too good for them as Alex Mcleish’s side put on an energetic display to win two goals to nothing.

Although the Scots had to wait until the second half for Steven Naismith to find the back of the net, they are surely happy with the victory as they put themselves in a good position to finish on top and earn promotion.

Highlight of the Group: Naismith was involved in both of Scotland’s goals in the second half. His 47th-minute header was deflected into the net by Albania’s Berat Xhimshiti and was counted as an own goal, but Naismith wasn’t going to be stopped as he fired home from a corner a few moments after the hour.

Key statistics: Scotland dominated possession and were unlucky not to score more from set pieces. They had almost 60 percent possession and had eight corner kicks, one of which led to their second goal.

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that the victory is only Scotland’s second win this 2018 and ended a run of three straight defeats.

GROUP 2

Finland weren’t expected to have a bright start to their Nations League campaign, with pre-tournament odds at SBOBET favouring Greece and Hungary instead. Nonetheless, the Finns surpassed expectations as they beat Estonia 1-0 to stay unbeaten.

Teemu Pukki went on target again for the hosts, scoring 12 minutes after kickoff. That goal was enough for Finland as they withstood a late Estonia charge to come out with the win.

Meanwhile, Hungary bounced back from their opening day defeat and took down Greece with an exciting three-goal first half. Laszlo Kleinheisler led Hungary to a 2-1 victory, breaking the deadlock after the two teams exchanged two quick goals earlier in the period.

Highlight of the Group: With the Estonia defence still settling, Finland quickly took advantage and found an opening to score. Pyry Soiri cut from the left and saw an unmarked Pukki charging forward. Soiri sent a soft pass to Pukki, and the Norwich City forward swiftly converted from close range.

Key statistics: Pukki has now scored two goals in as many games for Finland, having also hit the winner in their 1-0 victory over Hungary last week. It’s also a second clean sheet for Markku Kanerva’s men.

GROUP 3

After their humbling loss in Matchday 1 last week, Cyprus made the most of their home-court advantage to overcome a one-goal deficit and get their first win. Bulgaria, meanwhile, made it two-for-two after a convincing display against Norway.

Slovenia went ahead of Cyprus early in the second half with a Robert Beric header, but Pieros Sotiriou cancelled it out on 69 minutes to level matters. The home team was then gifted another goal when Petar Stojanovic accidentally put through his own net.

On the other Group C3 match, Radoslav Vasilev scored the only goal of the game as the Bulgarians punished the Norwegians for their lack of clinical finishing.

Highlight of the group: Slovenia almost got their first points of the tournament, but Stojanovic’s own goal in the closing stages doomed them and gave them little time to stage a comeback. The 22-year-old defender headed the ball to the Slovenia net on 89 minutes from a Charis Kyriakou free-kick.

Key statistics: Cyprus had a hard time against Slovenia but the numbers show they were always in the front foot. They had four shots on target and actually had the lion share of the ball (55 percent).

For Bulgaria, they were lucky to win after seeing Norway control the game with eight shots on target and 12 corners. Now, based on the latest UEFA Nations League 2018 results, the Bulgarians have six points and are well on pace to top the group.

GROUP 4

Serbia are proving that they are the team to beat in Group C4; however, Montenegro are making their case too and are slowly swinging the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds in their favour.

The Serbs were a little unfortunate not to get out with a win at home against Romania, having taken the lead two times. Aleksandar Mitrovic scored on both sides of the interval, but Romania battled back twice behind Nicolae Stanciu and George Tucudean to make it 2-2 and share the spoils.

Montenegro, for their part, put on a stunning display as two quick-fire goals in the first half paved the way to an easy 2-0 victory over Lithuania.

Highlight of the Group: The Brave Falcons of Montenegro needed less than 120 seconds to score their two goals in the first half. Stefan Savic converted from the spot on 34 minutes and Marko Jankovic quickly followed, sending the ball to the far post off a Zarko Tomasevic assist.

Key statistics: Serbia and Montenegro are now tied in the league rankings with four points each. The latter, however, is slightly ahead on goal difference after keeping their second clean sheet of the competition.

 

 


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