Seven City players in action as Pukki closes on Finland record
- Credit: PA Wire
Teemu Pukki is back on the goal trail for Finland, leaving the Norwich City star just one short of Jari Litmanen's record.
The striker hadn't scored in his last seven international games but pounced to deflect an attempted clearance into the net from close range against Ukraine in Helsinki this evening.
Pukki's goal arrived in the 29th minute, notching his third of the season for club and country as the Finns tried to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive in Group D.
That had been an equaliser but Ukraine reclaimed the lead before the break, with Pukki scoring his 31st international goal during his 97th appearance for his country.
The 31-year-old fired a late shot over the bar as the visitors held on to the three points to stay second and three points clear of Finland, having played a game more.
Elsewhere, City's on-loan Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour started Scotland's crunch clash with Israel in Glasgow, their chief competition for second place in Group F.
Kenny McLean stayed on the bench and Grant Hanley served a one-game suspension as the Scots grabbed a dramatic 3-2 win.
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Gilmour was fouled to win a penalty in first half injury-time but Lyndon Dykes' spot-kick was saved, only for the QPR striker to make up for the miss early in the second half to make it 2-2.
Hampden Park was rocking at full-time though thanks to a scrambled goal from Scott McTominay in the fourth minute of added time, with Gilmour replaced soon after as the hosts wound down the clock.
It means Steve Clarke's side head to the Faroe Islands on Tuesday with a four-point cushion to their rivals for second place and potential play-off qualification.
The Republic of Ireland's qualification hopes are almost certainly over in Group A but Adam Idah overcame a fever, having returned negative Covid-19 tests, to retain his starting role alongside Canaries team-mate Andrew Omobamidele.
Two goals from West Brom forward Callum Robinson put the Irish 2-0 ahead in the first half in Azerbaijan, as Idah picked up his 11th cap but continued his search for a first international goal, with defender Omobamidele earning his third cap.
Idah played the opening hour before being replaced by Rotherham forward Chiedozie Ogbene, who scored to seal a 3-0 win, as Omobamidele played the full match.
Milot Rashica also played the full game as Kosovo's qualification hopes came to an end in Group B with a 3-0 defeat in Sweden, with the winger making his 36th international appearance.
Playing as a striker, Rashica thought he had set up an equaliser in the 57th minute but a VAR check confirmed the City forward was offside when he crossed for Lazio striker Vedat Muriqi to turn home from close range.
In the same group, Greece won 2-0 in Georgia thanks to two late goals, with Christos Tzolis introduced in the 78th minute but Dimitris Giannoulis remaining on the bench.
The win tees up a crunch clash in Sweden on Tuesday, who are three points ahead of the Greeks in second place.
There was a great opportunity for winger Przemyslaw Placheta, who started for Poland against minnows San Marino in Warsaw, the team bottom of the Fifa rankings.
The 23-year-old earned his sixth cap despite not featuring for Norwich since pre-season due to struggling to recover from Covid-19.
Placheta crossed for the opening goal to begin a comfortable 5-0 win for Poland in front of over 56,000 spectators and completed the full match.
The Poles remain third in Group I and a point behind Albania, who won 1-0 in Hungary to retain second place behind leaders England.
On Friday, Tim Krul was an unused substitute as the Netherlands won 1-0 in Latvia to move two points clear of Norway at the top of Group G with three games to play.
The Norwegians drew 2-2 in Turkey to stay two points ahead of the Turks. Ozan Kabak served a one-game ban for the hosts and Mathias Normann pulled out of the visitors' squad to avoid aggravating a minor injury issue.
The international action resumes for City players on Monday with Max Aarons and the England Under-21s in Andorra and Kabak due to return to Turkey contention in Latvia, ahead of the final games involving Norwich players on Tuesday.