Spain, Switzerland clinch places at Euro 2016; Russia comes close
LOGRONO, Spain (AP) — Santi Cazorla and Paco Alcacer scored two goals each to help Spain beat Luxembourg 4-0 on Friday and secure a spot for the holders in next year's European Championship.
Cazorla scored in the 42nd and 85th minutes, while Alcacer netted in the 67th and 80th to give Spain 24 points in Group C, five more than Slovakia and Ukraine. Slovakia lost 1-0 at home to Belarus, while Ukraine defeated Macedonia 2-0.
In the final round, Ukraine hosts Spain, which will be looking for a third consecutive European title in France next year, and Slovakia plays at Luxembourg.
The top two teams from the nine groups qualify automatically. The best third-placed team also advances, while the other eight meet in a playoff.
SWITZERLAND CLINCHES BERTH
LONDON (AP) — Switzerland will return for the European Championship for the first time since co-hosting the tournament eight years ago after thrashing San Marino 7-0 on Friday with seven different scorers.
As the Swiss secured second place, Group E leader England made it nine wins out of nine in qualifying, with Theo Walcott and Raheem Sterling scoring in a 2-0 win over Estonia.
With one qualifier remaining, Switzerland has an unassailable five-point advantage over Slovenia, which was held 1-1 by Lithuania.
The last time Switzerland played at the Euros in 2008, England failed to qualify but reaching the expanded 24-team tournament has proved a breeze for Roy Hodgson's side.
England is the only team with a 100% record in qualifying for next year's finals and should be top-seeded in the draw.
RUSSIA NEARS QUALIFICATION
CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Russia took a big step toward qualifying for Euro 2016 on Friday as a 2-1 win over Moldova strengthened its hold on second place in Group G.
Russia struggled to break down the Moldovan defense but eventually took the lead through veteran defender Sergei Ignashevich, who blasted the ball into the net in the 58th minute after Artyom Dzyuba knocked on a free kick.
Dzyuba doubled Russia's lead in the 78th minute with a tap-in, while Eugeniu Cebotaru rekindled Moldovan hopes with a header in the 85th minute.
Going into the final round of group games on Monday, Russia has a two-point lead over second-placed Sweden, which beat Liechtenstein 2-0. Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty but scored an insurance goal for the Swedes.
Austria, which has already qualified as group winner, twice recovered from a goal down to beat Montenegro 3-2.