Turkey hold Croatia to 1-1 draw; Spain, Italy, Wales off to winning starts

Spain, Italy and Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales began their World Cup campaigns with victories while newcomers Kosovo earned their first point and scored their first goal in international competition in European qualifiers on Monday.

Italy had defender Giorgio Chiellini sent off as they were made to fight for a 3-1 win over Israel in Haifa, while Group G rivals Spain ran out 8-0 winners over Liechtenstein in Leon with two goals each for Diego Costa, David Silva and Alvaro Morata.

Gareth Bale meanwhile scored twice as Wales trounced Moldova 4-0 in Cardiff in a Group D game.

In Group I, Kosovo's Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Valon Berisha, who with several team-mates was only cleared to play by world governing body FIFA hours before kick-off, equalized from the penalty spot against Finland in an historic first goal and point for the debutants.

Sweden-born Berisha, capped 19 times for Norway, netted from the spot on the hour in Turku after Paulus Arajuuri opened the scoring for the home side in the 18th minute.

FIFA had earlier cleared Berisha and several other Kosovo players to play although they had won caps for other countries.

In the same group, Euro 2016 surprise side Iceland, attempting to reach a first World Cup finals, went ahead against Ukraine in Kiev through Alfred Finnbogason, but Andriy Yarmolenko levelled before the break. The home side squandered an opportunity to win the game when Yevhen Konoplyanka fired wide from the penalty spot.

Croatia and Turkey finished 1-1 in the group in Zagreb after Ivan Rakitic's penalty for the home side shortly before half-time was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time by Hakan Calhanoglu.

Sam Vokes, Joe Allen and two-goal Bale, including a stoppage-time penalty, were on target as Wales enjoyed a 4-0 win over Moldova in Cardiff.

Wales manager Chris Coleman told Sky Sports: "It was going to be tough and we had to be patient and disciplined and we were."

Group rivals Austria began with a 2-1 victory over Georgia in Tbilisi. Martin Hinteregger and Marc Janko put Marcel Koller's side ahead at the break before Jano Ananidze pulled one back 12 minutes from time.

Serbia and Ireland meanwhile shared the spoils in the group in a 2-2 draw in Belgrade.

Jeff Hendrick gave the Irish a third-minute lead when his shot from the edge of the area went in off Branislav Ivanovic.

Serbia hit back after the interval through Filip Kostic and a Dusan Tadic penalty, but Daryl Murphy levelled to give Ireland a point.

Spain went into overdrive in the second-half against Liechtenstein after Chelsea striker Costa gave the former European and world champions a half-time lead when he headed in Koke's free-kick.

Sergi Roberto scored his first international goal after the break, and Silva, Vitolo, Costa again, substitute Alvaro Morato twice and Silva for his second in stoppage time helped themselves as the floodgates opened.

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui, who made his debut in a competitive match with the national side, said: "The boys were hungry to score goals and entertain the fans tonight, and they have certainly done that."

Italy took a two-goal lead against Israel though Graziano Pelle and an Antonio Candreva penalty, but the home side were back in the game before half-time thanks to a delightful chip over keeper Gianluigi Buffon by Tal Ben-Haim.

Chiellini was dismissed nine minutes after the break after a second booking, and the Azzurri lived dangerously before substitute Ciro Immobile made sure of the points with a third seven minutes from time.

Italy boss Giampiero Ventura said: "We played and suffered as a team and I think we won as a team.

"In a month, against Spain (on October 6) I hope we feel better physically. We will have played four more (domestic league) games and we will be better off."

The Group G match between Albania and Macedonia was abandoned at 1-1 in the 79th minute after a storm.

Last update: Mon, 05/09/2016 - 23:45

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