Friday, March 22, 2013

Denmark 3 - Czech Republic 0; Bulgaria 6 - Malta 0

Sofia was the snowy scene as Malta paid a visit to Bulgaria.  No fans were allowed to watch as punishment for their having been very racist in a previous Bulgaria home match.  Today's match was a comedy of errors for hapless Malta.  The first Bulgaria goal was a well-struck shot by Aleksandar Tonev, but his second squirmed through the hands of legs of Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.  Bulgaria took the 2-0 lead into the second period.

 Just after the restart, a Georgi Milanov run up the left allowed Ivelin Popov to find space across the face of goal, from where he tapped in a Milanov through ball.  Luke Dimech had a brain cramp on the fourth goal, trying to dribble out of his own penalty area before being dispossesed in a play that led to Bulgaria's fourth goal.  Tonev completed his hat trick before the hour mark with a shot from outside the box.  Ivan Ivanov found the sixth as he snuck his boot waist-high between two defenders to tap the ball in from two yards away.  Bulgaria win easily 6-0 and further solidify their second-place position in Group B.

Czech Republic welcomed Denmark to Olomouc for their qualifier today.  The Czechs had the upper hand early, but Denmark goalkeeper Stephan Andersen (pictured, blue) made two identical diving stops to his right in the first half hour to deny the hosts a lead.  By the end of the half, Denmark had firmly established themselves in the match and had the momentum after the scoreless period ended.

Andreas Cornelius was peppering the Czech goal after the restart, and he was rewarded for his efforts when a rebound off a teammate fell to him inside the penalty area.  He took a touch and then rifled into the roof of the net from sixteen yards out, giving Denmark a 1-0 lead.  Cornelius drew a corner kick ten minutes later after his sparkling run drew three Danish defenders, forcing Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech to break up the shot that came after Cornelius's pass.  On the resulting corner kick, Simon Kjaer was first to the near post, and his header gave Denmark a 2-0 lead midway through the period.  Center back Kjaer created the third goal as his high pressure blocked a clearance ten yards from the Czech endline.  The rebound fell to Niki Zimling, who eventually unleashed a driven shot from just beyond the half circle that nearly ripped the net.  Denmark would coast home the rest of the match to claim a 3-0 win on the road.

Italy 10 pts +6
Bulgaria 9 pts +7
Denmark 5 pts +1
Czech Rep. 5 pts -1
Armenia 3 pts -2
Malta 0 pts -11

Aleksandar Tonev 6, 38, 58
Ivelin Popov 47
Emil Gargorov 55
Ivan Ivanov 78

Andreas Cornelius 57
Simon Kjaer 67
Niki Zimling 82

Match Report:

Highlights: (Bulgaria v. Malta) (Denmark v. Czech Republic)

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