Soccer shorts : Axe falls on Kovac after two disappointing results for Croatia

San Marino's Matteo Vitaioli (on ground) celebrating after scoring against Lithuania but the minnows could not hold on for a rare draw.
San Marino's Matteo Vitaioli (on ground) celebrating after scoring against Lithuania but the minnows could not hold on for a rare draw.PHOTO: REUTERS

Axe falls on Kovac after two disappointing results for Croatia

ZAGREB • Croatia have sacked coach Niko Kovac after the Balkan country's hopes of reaching Euro 2016 suffered a setback following a 0-0 draw in Azerbaijan and a 0-2 defeat in Norway.

The Croatians are third in Group H with a provisional tally of 15 points from eight matches.

They are three points adrift of leaders Italy and one behind Norway.

Kovac steered Croatia to the 2014 World Cup after taking over from Igor Stimac in October 2013. But he fell out with captain Luka Modric, who was unhappy after being substituted against the Azeris on Thursday and then rubbished Kovac's remarks that the players were not fully committed in Sunday's debacle in Norway.

REUTERS


San Marino break goal drought but concede last-minute winner

VILNIUS • Matteo Vitaioli scored San Marino's first competitive away goal in more than 14 years but they conceded a last-minute winner to 10-man Lithuania and lost 1-2 in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Tuesday.

It was only the fifth goal in European Championship qualifying, stretching back to 1990, for Europe's second-lowest-ranked team.

They had lost their last 34 competitive away games without scoring.

The minnows, with just over 30,000 inhabitants, were minutes away from only their second away point but were denied in stoppage time by a close-range shot from Lukas Spalvis.

REUTERS


Russia revive campaign with 7-0 hammering of Liechtenstein

VADUZ • Russia thrashed Liechtenstein 7-0 with Artem Dzyuba scoring four goals on Tuesday as they got their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign firmly back on track with two wins out of two under new coach Leonid Slutskiy.

The victory moves Russia into second place in Group G, two points ahead of Sweden, after they lost 1-4 at home to an Austria side who clinched their place at the Finals in France.

REUTERS


Neymar twice on target in Brazil's 4-1 rout of US in friendly

FOXBOROUGH (Massachusetts) • Barcelona superstar Neymar scored twice as Brazil thrashed the United States 4-1 to equal the Americans' heaviest margin of defeat under manager Juergen Klinsmann in a friendly on Tuesday.

The scoreline matched the worst-ever result suffered by the Americans under Klinsmann, who were beaten 1-4 by Brazil in 2012 and 1-4 by Ireland last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


Messi helps Argentina avoid loss to Mexico with late equaliser

ARLINGTON (Texas) • Lionel Messi saved Argentina's blushes with a late equaliser as the South American giants scored twice in the final five minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw with Mexico in a friendly on Tuesday.

Argentina appeared to be heading for their first defeat by Mexico since 2004 after a first-half penalty from Javier Hernandez and a second-half strike from Hector Herrera fired "El Tri" into a 2-0 lead.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'SoccerShorts'. Print Edition | Subscribe