Two MLS players were involved in a heartstopping conclusion to a tense World Cup qualifying series on Sunday, as Liberia held off Sierra Leone’s furious second-leg rally on a rain-soaked pitch in Freetown to advance to the next round of Africa’s road to Qatar 2022.
After Real Salt Lake striker Sam Johnson scored the final – and eventually crucial – goal in Liberia’s 3-1 first-leg win on home soil on Thursday, the Colorado Rapids’ Kei Kamara spearheaded Sierra Leone’s comeback bid in Sunday’s second-leg decider in front of a packed home crowd at Siaka Stevens Stadium.
Kamara saw an overhead kick cleared off the line and another shot stopped by 18-year-old Liberian goalkeeper Ashley Williams. The MLS veteran finally hit the net early in the second half, and when the Leone Stars earned a penalty kick deep in second-half stoppage time they looked poised to level the tie 3-3 on aggregate and advance via the away-goal tiebreaker.
Williams dived to his left to save captain Umaru Bangura’s spot kick, however, clinching Liberia’s victory and advancement to the group stage of CAF qualifying, while Sierra Leone were eliminated in heartbreaking fashion.
Euro 2020 qualifying: Quakes duo key for Georgia
Vako | Reuters / Clodagh Kilcoyne Livepic
Vako and his San Jose Earthquakes teammate Guram Kashia both both went the full 90 for Georgia's national team in their hard-earned 0-0 home draw with Denmark in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying on Sunday at Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, a solid result considering the Danes’ 5-1 win in their previous meeting in June.
Georgia remain well behind the pack in Group D, however, sitting in fourth place in the five-team group with a 1-3-1 record.
Elsewhere, the Seattle Sounders' Gustav Svensson came off the bench to play the final six-plus minutes of Sweden's 1-1 Euro qualifying draw with Norway in Stockholm. Further to the east, MLSers Lassi Lappalainen (Montreal Impact), Robin Lod and Rasmus Schuller (both Minnesota United) all started in Finland's stinging 2-1 comeback loss to Italy at Tampere Stadium, a match won by a 79th-minute penalty-kick conversion by Jorginho.
Sporting Kansas City's Nicolas Hasler started for Liechtenstein in their impressive 1-1 draw with Greece in Athens, and assisted on Dennis Salanovic's late equalizer. It marks the first point in six qualifying matches for Liechtenstein.
Sweden sit second in UEFA Group F, seven points behind runaway leaders Spain and one ahead of third-place Romania. Finland remain in a similar position in Group J, six back of leaders Italy and three ahead of third-place Armenia, with Liechtenstein at the foot of the table.
Islanders spring Concacaf stunner
Few results across the globe were as surprising as Bermuda’s 2-0 away win over Panama in Concacaf Nations League action on Sunday, a game where the Quakes’ Harold Cummings and New York Red Bulls fullback Michael Murillo both went the distance for Los Canaleros, who'd shellacked the small Atlantic island territory 4-1 in their first Group B meeting.
While neither Bermuda nor Panama are expected to outpace Mexico in the Group B reckoning, Sunday’s result could have positive repercussions for Canada, who aim to rack up enough coefficient points in the FIFA World Rankings to pass Panama and El Salvador in pursuit of the sixth and final place in the Hexagonal qualifying group which will be drawn next year.
Miami’s Carranza strikes for Argentina U-23s
A current MLS star, LAFC’s Eduard Atuesta, faced off against one to watch for the future, Inter Miami signing Julian Carranza, when the Under-23 national teams of Colombia and Argentina faced off in a friendly on Sunday. Carranza, currently on loan to his former club Banfield ahead of Inter’s 2020 kickoff, came off the bench to lash home the final goal of Argentina’s 3-1 win: