England s Noni Madueke scores their side s second goal of the game during the Under-21 International Friendly soccer match between England and France at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, England, Saturday March 25, 2023. AP
A look at what’s happening in European Championship qualifying on Sunday:
England looks to follow up its 2-1 away win over Italy as it hosts Ukraine, which has not played a game since September. Ukrainian refugees will be among the fans at Wembley. England manager Gareth Southgate will be without Reece James after the Chelsea full back left the squad “for assessment on an ongoing issue,” and Luke Shaw is suspended after he was sent off against Italy.
Being drawn against England and Italy means qualification is a tough task for Ukraine, which reached the quarterfinals of the European Championship in 2021 before losing 4-0 to England. Only the top two teams in the group qualify. Italy visits Malta in the other game in Group C.
Denmark opened its group campaign with a 3-1 win over Finland on Thursday thanks to a rising star. Rasmus Hojlund scored all three goals for the Danes on his first international start and will look to build on that impressive display in an away match at Kazakhstan. Hojlund is a 20-year-old striker who joined Italian team Atalanta in August after starting out at FC Copenhagen and having a half-season at Sturm Graz in Austria.
Denmark's national team is in its strongest state for a generation — it reached the semifinals of Euro 2020 — but has been lacking a clinical striker. “This was very big for me,” Hojlund said of his hat trick against Finland. “I’ve never experienced anything like it before.” Northern Ireland looks to follow up a win over San Marino by beating Finland, while Slovenia hosts San Marino.
Portugal visits Luxembourg in the second game of the Roberto Martínez era as its coach. Portugal got off to a good start by routing Liechtenstein 4-0 in Cristiano Ronaldo's record-breaking 197th appearance with the national team. Martínez replaced Fernando Santos after Portugal's disappointing elimination to Morocco in the quarterfinals of the World Cup last year in Qatar.
Luxembourg also started its qualifying campaign with a good result, earning a 0-0 draw at Slovakia. Slovakia will host Bosnia-Herzegovina, which opened with a 3-0 win over Iceland. Iceland will visit Liechtenstein.
Russia is excluded from European Championship qualifying because of its invasion of Ukraine. After playing a series of friendlies in Central Asian countries last year and drawing 1-1 with Iran on Thursday, Russia hosts its first men's national team since the invasion. It plays Iraq in St. Petersburg.
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