Round-up: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored both goals as Sweden won 2-0 in Moldova, and there were healthy wins for both Austria and Slovakia in Friday night’s Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Switzerland and Slovenia also enjoyed thumping wins, 3-0 against Estonia and 6-0 against San Marino respectively, while Belarus edged Macedonia 2-1.
A bizarre headed goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic put Sweden on the road to a 2-0 victory over Moldova in their Euro 2016 Group G qualifier in Chisinau on Friday, with the striker also netting a late penatly.
Sweden’s captain gave his side the lead immediately after halftime when Moldova goalkeeper Ilie Cebanu’s attempt to deal with a back pass failed to clear the frontman.
Ibrahimovic reacted with lightning reflexes to head the ball into an empty net from the edge of the penalty area to notch his 52nd goal in 102 international appearances.
Bottom of the group on a single point, Moldova chose to defend deep for most of the game and created little, their occasional forays forward on the counter-attack failing to trouble the Swedish rearguard.
Ibrahimovic almost doubled his tally in the 75th minute, but his thunderous free kick found Cebanu in a less generous mood and he swatted the ball away to safety.
Cebanu continued to redeem himself, performing a smart double-save to deny Sweden substitutes Marcus Berg and Emil Forsberg in the 81st minute.
But there was little he could do in the 84th minute when winger Forsberg was upended and Ibrahimovic smashed home the resulting penalty to secure the win for Sweden.
With group leaders Austria winning 5-0 away to Liechtenstein, the result means the Swedes stay in second place on nine points, four behind the Austrians.
David Alaba atoned for a penalty miss with a superb long-range second-half strike as Austria stayed on course for Euro 2016 with their comfortable 5-0 win away to Liechtenstein.
Martin Harnik and Marc Janko set the Group G leaders on their way with two goals in the first 16 minutes, quickly burying the hosts’ hopes of repeating their shock 1-0 win over Moldova in their last match.
Alaba, Zlatko Junuzovic and Marko Arnautovic completed the win in the second half.
Mario Frick captained Liechtenstein at the 40 as he made his 118th appearance but never looked like adding to his record total of 16 goals.
Austria, whose only Euro finals appearance was in 2008 when they qualified automatically as co-hosts, remained unbeaten and top the group with 13 points from five games.
They took the lead after 14 minutes when Harnik ran on to a Junuzovic’s delightful flicked pass to fired past Peter Jehle and Janko tapped in Arnautovic’s low cross for the second two minutes later.
The visitors were awarded a penalty just after the half hour when Jehle fumbled the ball then clattered into Junuzovic as he tried to reclaim it, but Alaba spared the keeper’s blushes by sending a poor effort wide of the target.
The Bayern Munich midfielder made up for the miss when he collected a pass in midfield, side-stepped his marker and fired a dipping shot past Jehle from 25 metres just before the hour.
Marcel Sabitzer headed into the path of Junuzovic for the fourth in the 74th minute and Arnautovic rifled home the fifth in stoppage time to complete Austria’s fourth consecutive win in the group.
Slovakia’s impressive qualifying campaign continued after three first-half goals secured a 3-0 victory over Luxembourg and kept them top of Group C with maximum points after five games.
Adam Nemec volleyed Slovakia in front on 10 minutes when he pounced on the rebound after Jan Durica’s free-kick hit the crossbar and winger Vladimir Weiss added a second midway through the first half.
Slovakia continued to carve Luxembourg open at will and defender Peter Pekarik scored the hosts’ third just before the break when he burst into the box and placed the ball past Jonathan Joubert.
Slovakia, who beat holders Spain in October, are on 15 points, three ahead of the European champions and six more than third-placed Ukraine.