Europe top teams win WCup qualifiers as Swiss move goalposts

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England's Harry Kane celebrates his side's first goal during the World Cup 2022 group I qualifying soccer match between Albania and England at Air Albania stadium in Tirana, Sunday, March 28, 2021. England won 2-0. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

World Cup qualifying in Europe took a quirky turn when the goalposts were removed before a match between Switzerland and Lithuania because they were deemed the incorrect size.

It was one of the few things that didn’t go to script on Sunday.

All of the continent’s heavyweight countries secured victories, though Spain left it late — the second minute of stoppage time, to be precise — to see off Georgia 2-1 after falling behind.

Like Spain, France started its qualification campaign with an unexpected draw at home but also got back on track in its second game, easing to a 2-0 win at Kazakhstan.

Italy stretched its unbeaten streak to 24 games with a 2-0 win in Bulgaria, and England also moved onto a maximum six points in group play with a 2-0 victory at Albania. Germany made it two straight wins to open qualifying, too, by beating Romania 1-0 away.

Meanwhile, Denmark became the latest European team to use the World Cup qualifiers to direct attention to workers’ rights in 2022 host Qatar. Its players wore red T-shirts with the slogan “Football supports change” for the team photo before kickoff against Moldova, which Denmark went on to beat 8-0.

The Danish soccer federation said the shirts will be signed and auctioned to raise money for projects with Amnesty International that help migrant workers in Qatar.

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