Nations League: Kosovo defeat deepens Northern Ireland woes, Spain edge Swiss | Nations League

Northern Ireland’s Nations League despair grew deeper as they fell to a 3-2 defeat to Kosovo which caused some fans to openly turn on Ian Baraclough.

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 ended it, Dan Ballard’s late header notwithstanding.

Northern Ireland’s run of games without a win in this competition extended to 13 matches after their latest setback. The team entered League C Group 2 as top seeds following their relegation and Baraclough boldly talked of targeting 12 points from their June fixtures, but they have taken only one from three matches.

The manager was greeted with chants of “cheerio” as he went over to the away fans in Pristina. “It’s understandable,” Baraclough said afterwards. “They’re here, they want to follow and watch a team … but what do we do about players who are being blooded and building for the future?

“We knew we had to go through a certain amount of pain and we are as it goes forward,” the 51-year-old added. “You’ll see improvement and you’ve seen a difference between the first two games and this one tonight.”

In the top tier Spain clinched their first Nations League victory in this campaign after a 1-0 win over Switzerland in Geneva. Pablo Sarabia scored the decisive goal in the 13th minute after turning in Marcos Llorente’s cross, as Luis Enrique’s side bounced back from successive draws.

“Professional soccer is about results,” the Spain coach said afterwards. “We were able to impose our style.” Goalscorer Sarabia, meanwhile, accepted “it was about time we won. These three points are very valuable for us.”

Pablo Sarabia steers the ball beyond Yann Sommer for Spain's winning goal.
Pablo Sarabia steers the ball beyond Yann Sommer for Spain’s winning goal. Photograph: RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images

Portugal maintained their strong start to the Nations League with a 2-0 home win over Czech Republic. The hosts opened the scoring in Lisbon after 33 minutes when Bernardo Silva set up his Manchester City teammate, João Cancelo, with the full-back firing home from a tight angle.

Silva provided another assist five minutes later when he released Gonçalo Guedes and the winger rifled a shot into the net. The 2019 champions have taken seven points from their opening three matches to open up a lead over Spain in Group A2.

In League B Sweden slumped to a 1-0 home defeat against Serbia. Luka Jovic scored the winner just before half-time as Sweden lost their second consecutive home game. The Group B4 leaders, Norwaywere held to a 0-0 draw at home by 10-man Slovenia.

In League C Gibraltar picked up a notable result as they drew 1-1 with Bulgaria. Elsewhere, Greece routed Cyprus 3-0 and Georgia defeated North Macedonia by the same scoreline.

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