Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Netherlands, Italy, Belgium all struggle

Published:Tuesday | October 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Bosnia's Muhamed Besic (right) vies for the ball with Eden Hazard of Belgium during the Euro 2016 Group B soccer qualifying match at Stadium Bilino Polje in Zenica, Bosnia, yesterday. AP

ROME (AP): The Netherlands fell to another surprising loss and fellow continental powers Italy and Belgium also struggled in European Championship qualifying yesterday, while Croatia showed off their goalscoring credentials.

Meanwhile, Wales stayed atop Group B with a 2-1 win over Cyprus and are on course to qualify for their first major championship, with the 2016 tournament in France expanded to 24 teams for the first time.

Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson scored both goals as Iceland beat the Netherlands 2-0 to hand coach Guus Hiddink his third loss in four matches since taking over after the World Cup.

Group A fight

The win kept Iceland perfect in three qualifiers and left them level atop Group A with the Czech Republic, which got their third straight win by beating Kazakhstan 4-2 in Almaty.

Italy laboured to a 1-0 win at tiny Malta, where Graziano Pelle scored on his debut. The Azzurri are tied for the Group H lead with Croatia, which routed Azerbaijan 6-0.

Belgium trail Wales after a 1-1 draw at Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The top two finishers from the nine groups qualify automatically. The best third-place team also qualifies automatically and the other eight can qualify through a playoff.