Nations League results: Northern Ireland beaten in Kosovo as Spain and Portugal win

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Northern Ireland’s struggles in the UEFA Nations League continued on Thursday as Ian Baraclough’s side fell to a 3-2 defeat away in Kosovo.

Sections of the support appeared to turn on Baraclough, with chants of “Cheerio” from the crowd after early strikes from Vedat Muriqi and Zymer Bytyqi, the first a penalty, put Kosovo in control. And although Shayne Lavery pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, Muriqi’s second at the start of the second half should have killed it, Dan Ballard’s late header notwithstanding.

Northern Ireland’s games without a win in this competition now number 13, but it was not luck that was against them at the Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri as they were second best to a bright Kosovo side who threatened to score more and increase yet further the growing pressure on Baraclough.

Pablo Sarabia, meanwhile, handed Spain their first victory of this year’s campaign by scoring an early goal in a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

Luis Enrique’s side dominated the game but struggled to convert their chances beyond Sarabia’s 12th-minute winner, a close-range strike after meeting Marcos Llorente’s cross.

Spain now sit second in Group A2 with five points from three matches, with Portugal leading the way on seven.

The group leaders eased by the Czech Republic with goals from Joao Cancelo and Goncalo Guedes in a first-half blitz.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

In Sweden, a first-half goal by Luka Jovic earned Serbia a 1-0 win in their Nations League Group B4 clash on Thursday as the Swedes slumped to their second home defeat in a row thanks to another flat performance.

The visitors took the lead just before the break when Strahinja Pavlovic headed a corner back across goal to Jovic, and he reacted quickly to hook the ball home past Robin Olsen.

Missing several first-choice defenders through injury, the Swedish attack again looked short of ideas as they registered a single shot on target and the Serbs held on for a comfortable victory.

Serbia remained second in the group on six points, one behind Norway who played out a scoreless draw with bottom side Slovenia in Oslo. The Serbs travel to Slovenia on Sunday while Sweden head to Oslo to play Norway.

Slovenia overcame the sending-off of defender Miha Blazic to grab their first point of their Nations League Group B4 campaign as they held the Norwegians to a 0-0 draw in Oslo on Thursday.

Slovenia were reduced to 10 men in the 63rd minute when Blazic was shown a straight red card for bringing down Erling Haaland when he was through on goal, and Martin Odegaard hit the resulting free kick against the crossbar.

Haaland had plenty of chances but could not add to his tally of three goals in the competition, and Alexander Soerloth missed a great chance to grab all three points, firing over the bar in the 75th minute as the visitors hung on for a point.

Additional reporting from PA and Reuters

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