PARIS (AFP) -World Cup semi-finalists the Netherlands' hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016 took another blow on Monday as a Gylfi Sigurdsson double gave Iceland a 2-0 win over the European giants. He put Iceland ahead in the 10th minute with a coolly taken penalty after Gregory van der Wiel had fouled Birkir Bjarnason.
Both Dutch skipper Robin van Persie and fellow veteran Arjen Robben had excellent chances to level midway through the first-half but the former saw his effort saved by Hannes Halldorsson while the latter was off target.
They were left to regret those misses as the sparkling Sigurdsson added a second three minutes before the break, when Sigurdsson tucked the ball away when the Dutch defence failed to deal with a corner. It was his fourth goal in his last three games for Iceland. Dutch coach Guus Hiddink acted to turn things round at half-time, replacing Wesley Sneijder with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but it made little difference and left the veteran coach with a lot of thinking to do.
Iceland - who only just missed out on a place at their first ever World Cup finals when they lost in the play-offs for this year's global showpiece - top Group A alongside the Czech Republic with a perfect nine points from three games while the Dutch, who lost to the Czechs in their opening qualifier, are six points adrift in third place.
World Cup qualifiers Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belgium drew 1-1. Edin Dzeko gave Bosnia the lead and the hosts had goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to thank for going into half-time ahead as he produced a great save from Romelu Lukaku two minutes before the interval. The visitors, though, did get back on equal terms six minutes into the second-half as Toby Alderweireld set up Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan to beat Begovic from the edge of the area.
Croatia and Italy top Group H, also with nine points apiece, but their victories on Monday couldn't have been more different, the Croats whipping Azerbaijan 6-0, one short of their record victory over Andorra in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.
Italy, who had eked out a 2-1 win over Azerbaijan last Friday, relied on a goal from Graziano Pelle on his debut to scrape a 1-0 victory over minnows Malta, who played for an hour with 10 men following Michael Mifsud's dismissal.
Italy coach Antonio Conte admitted there needed to be a big improvement if they are to see off Croatia in Milan next month. "The big game against Croatia will tell us just how good we are after these first two months," said Conte, who saw centre-back Leonardo Bonucci sent off late on. "We need to get down to work if we're to succeed."
Wales, who have not been at a major finals since the 1958 World Cup, overcame being reduced to 10 men to edge Cyprus 2-1 in Cardiff and hold a one point lead over Israel, who beat Andorra 4-1, in Group B.