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Spain rescue late Czech Republic draw in Nations League, Lionel Messi scores five as Argentina thrash Estonia | football-news

Spain needed a last-minute Inigo Martinez strike to rescue a 2-2 Nations League draw with the Czech Republic, while Lionel Messi scored all five goals as Argentina beat Estonia 5-0 in a friendly.

The Czechs took an early lead in the Group A2 clash with Spain after Sparta Prague forward Jakub Pesek scored from close range in the fourth minute, connecting with a pass from Jan Kuchta who got in behind the visitors’ defence.

Spain equalized on the stroke of half-time when midfielder Gavi beat Czech goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik with a shot to the far post.

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Jan Kuchta celebrates after scoring for Czech Republic

However, the Czechs reook the lead in the 66th minute when Kuchta lobbed goalkeeper Unai Simon from just outside the area after he was sent through on goal alone.

Spain scored in the 90th minute to break the hearts of the home fans in Prague when Martinez connected with a cross from Marco Asensio and his header just crossed the line.

Czech Republic's Jan Kuchta scores against Spain
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Kuchta scores against Spain

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal swept to an emphatic 4-0 victory over Switzerland in their UEFA Nations League clash at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon.

William Carvalho and Joao Cancelo were also on the scoresheet as the hosts wasted numerous opportunities to inflict more humiliation on the visitors, who suffered their biggest defeat since losing to Germany by the same scoreline in 2008.

Cristiano Ronaldo was among the goals for Portugal
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Cristiano Ronaldo was among the goals for Portugal

Portugal have four points from their opening two Group A2 matches and are ahead of second-placed Czech Republic on goal difference. Switzerland are on zero after back-to-back losses and are now winless in their last four encounters since they qualified for the World Cup in Qatar.

Carvalho opened the scoring when he reacted quickest to the loose ball when Ronaldo’s free-kick was parried, before the latter netted a quickfire double to extend his record tally of international goals to 117.

Ronaldo should have had a hat-trick when he wasted two excellent opportunities before half-time, the first a barely believable miss from six yards, but it was left to Cancelo to score the fourth for Portugal in the second half.

Ronaldo celebrates the first of his strikes
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Ronaldo celebrates the first of his strikes

Portugal host Czech Republic in their next fixture on Thursday, while Switzerland entertain Spain in Geneva on the same evening.

Meanwhile, Erling Haaland scored in each half to bring his international tally to 18 in 19 games as Norway beat Sweden 2-1 to top Nations League Group B4 after victories in their opening two games.

The visitors took the lead when Morten Thorsby was awarded a soft penalty by referee Anthony Taylor for some innocuous contact in the box by Emil Krafth. Haaland, who scored the winner against Serbia in their opening game, thumped the spot-kick to the right of Robin Olsen in the 20th minute.

Sweden’s only attempts on target in the opening 45 minutes came from a pair of Emil Forsberg free-kicks just before the break, but despite a string of decent attacks and set-pieces early in the second half, they could not manage to fashion an equaliser .

Haaland made them pay in the 69th minute, latching on to a loose ball and surging powerfully into the box before flashing a low right-foot shot across Olsen and into the net to make it 2-0.

Norway's Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring
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Norway’s Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring

The striker missed a great chance to complete his hat-trick three minutes later and was replaced by Joshua King soon after.

Anthony Elanga scored a stoppage-time goal for the Swedes that proved too little, too late as Norway held on to win.

The Norwegians top the group on six points ahead of their first home game against bottom-side Slovenia on Thursday, while the Swedes host second-placed Serbianwho beat the Slovenians 4-1.

Slovenian‘s Petar Stojanovic canceled out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s first-half opener, but second-half goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luka Jovic and Nemanja Radonjic completed a comfortable win for the Serbs.

Northern Ireland‘s winless run in the competition was extended to 12 matches as they were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw in Cyprus.

Ian Baraclough’s side, who lost 1-0 to Greece at Windsor Park last week in their group C2 opener, sit third in the table after two matches.

Greece followed up last week’s opening win with another 1-0 success on the road as Anastasios Bakasetas scored the only goal in Kosovo.

Georgia made it two wins from two as they won 5-2 in Bulgariagroup C4 rivals North Macedonia registered their first win, 2-0 in Gibraltarand malt made a winning start to their group D2 campaign, beating San Marino 2-0.

Messi grabs five as Argentina thrash Estonia

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates his side's fourth
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Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates his fourth goal

Lionel Messi celebrated captaining Argentina to Finalissima glory last Wednesday by grabbing all five goals – and becoming the fourth-highest scorer in men’s international football – as Argentina ended their European tour with a 5-0 thrashing of Estonia in Spain.

The seven-time Ballon D’Or winner opened the scoring from the spot after eight minutes, and doubled Argentina’s advantage from a tight angle moments before the interval.

It took only two minutes of the second half for him to add a third, which took him level with Hungary legend Ferenc Puskas on 84 goals for his country.

He was not done there, though, and moved clear into fourth position in the all-time top goalscorer standings when playing on after several Estonia players had stopped for what looked a foul on an Argentina midfielder, before rounding goalkeeper Matvei Igonen and slotting home.

He added a fifth for only the second time in his career for club or country when he latched onto the rebound from Paulo Dybala’s effort to round off a typically exceptional solo performance.

What’s next?

World Cup holders France face a rematch of their 2018 final victory over Croatia in Split on Monday as the highlight of the day’s seven games; kick-off 7.45pm.

Elsewhere, Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark visit Ralf Rangnick’s Austria looking to build on their impressive 2-1 win over France in their Nations League opener.

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