Late goals change the landscape in Euro 2016 qualifiers

Late goals change the landscape in Euro 2016 qualifiers

By Ian Palmer

To be successful in soccer you need to play hard for the full 90 minutes. However, too many teams have taken their foot off the gas pedal over the years while trying to protect a lead, especially just a one-goal cushion. These teams make the mistake of trying to defend and simply hand the ball back to their opponents time and time again and invite them to launch another attack. The inevitable usually happens as they give up the tying goal late in a game and then have no time left to do anything about it.

This scenario reared its head several times over the weekend during the qualifying campaign for the European Championships in France in 2016 and several teams paid dearly for it by blowing a pair of points while trying to hang onto one-goal leads. In Belfast, Ireland, group leaders Poland went into their match against the hosts with a three-point lead over Germany, Scotland and Ireland. They tried to hang onto a 1-0 lead and ended up conceding the equalizer in injury time. This enable Poland to retain their three-point advantage over the Irish, but their lead over Scotland and Germany was cut to just one point after allowing the last-minute goal.

Late goals change the landscape in Euro 2016 qualifiers

The same thing happened in the Czech Republic as visitors Latvia tried to sit on their 1-0 lead and ended up blowing it in the last minute. The Czechs remain in the lead in Group A with a one-point lead over Iceland while Latvia is still stuck in fifth place in the six-team group. It was déjà vu at the Amsterdam Arena in Holland where the Dutch were hosting Turkey in another Group A contest. The Turks played well to take a 1-0 lead, but then inexplicably sat back and allowed Holland to take over. It came as no surprise when Holland tied the game in the second minute of injury time. Fourth-place Turkey (5 points) would have overtaken third-place Holland (7 points) in the standings with a win.

In addition, there were other late goals in the qualifiers as second-place Albania edged last-place Armenia 2-1 in Group I by scoring twice in the last 13 minutes of the match to overcome a 1-0 deficit. The winner came with nine minutes remaining. Fourth-place Bulgaria had a 2-1 lead at home against second-place Italy in their Group H clash, but managed to drop two points when the visitors leveled the game 2-2 just six minutes before the final whistle. And in Macedonia, the fifth-place home team was holding onto a 1-1 draw against fourth-place Belarus and let the game winner in with just eight minutes left on the clock. Belarus now jumps over Macedonia in Group C by one point.

bet365 lists World Cup champions Germany as the favourites to take Euro 2016 at 3/1 followed by hosts France at 4/1, Spain 13/2 and England at 11/1. Azerbaijan are the long shots at 10,000/1.