The Spain captain Sergio Ramos scored another Panenka penalty to give his side a 2-1 home win over Norway in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier but it was a far from convincing display from Luis Enrique’s side. Spain made a slick start and took the lead at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium when Rodrigo Moreno volleyed in Jordi Alba’s cross from close range in the 16th minute and continued to dominate proceedings without carving out many clear chances.
Norway, who had done little in attack, levelled in the 65th minute with a perfectly taken penalty from striker Josh King after Iñigo Martínez had hauled Bjørn Johnsen to the floor. Spain earned a spot-kick of their own six minutes later when Álvaro Morata was tripped by Norway goalkeeper Rune Jarstein. Ramos took it and chipped the ball down the middle to score his fifth Panenka of the season and the eighth of his career.
Midfielder Nicolò Barella and forward Moise Kean scored their first international goals to give Italy a 2-0 win over Finland. Barella, 22, gave Italy the perfect start by scoring with a deflected shot after seven minutes and Kean, the first player born after 2000 to play for Italy, added the second in the 74th minute.
Italy’s first home win since they beat Israel in a World Cup qualifier in September 2017 gave them a lift as they attempt to put their failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup behind them. Finland clearly set out to frustrate Italy but that plan had to be scrapped when a clearance went straight to Barella, who met it first time from the edge of the area and a deflection wrongfooted the goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.
Italy added a second when Ciro Immobile slipped the ball through to Kean and the 19-year-old fired a confident finish past Hradecky.
Also in Group J Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s stoppage-time goal was not enough to prevent Bosnia-Herzegovina beating Armenia 2-1, and Greece beat Liechtenstein 2-0.
At the same time as Ireland were narrowly beating Gibraltar, their Group D rivals Switzerland survived a difficult first half and overcame the absence of forwards Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic to beat Georgia 2-0 away. Second-half goals from Steven Zuber and Denis Zakaria ended Georgia’s unbeaten home run of eight matches as the Swiss ultimately ran out comfortable winners.
Switzerland, playing their first match since their stunning 5-2 Nations League win over Belgium in November, went in front in the 57th minute when Breel Embolo laid the ball off to Zuber and he scored with a shot into the corner.
Another break in the 80th minute ended with substitute Albian Ajeti’s shot being blocked by goalkeeper Giorgi Loria but it fell to Zakaria who slotted home the rebound. Switzerland host Denmark and Ireland entertain Georgia in the next games on Tuesday.
Robin Quaison scored a first-half goal to put Sweden on the road to a comfortable 2-1 win over Romania at the Friends Arena in Solna. After a slow start from both teams, Quaison gave the Swedes the lead in the 33rd minute, stabbing Ludwig Augustinsson’s pass home from close range to notch his third goal in his seventh senior international.
The 25-year-old Stockholm native was also involved in Sweden’s second seven minutes later. He fired a dangerous ball into the box that was cleared as far as winger Viktor Claesson, who rifled the ball home from the edge of the area. Romania pulled one back through Claudiu Keseru on 58 minutes but the Swedes saw out the win comfortably. In the other Group F match ten-man Malta beat the Faroe Islands 2-1 at home.