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Sports News

Scotland near Nations League promotion amid close races elsewhere

Slideshow ( 3 images )

(Reuters) - Scotland closed in on promotion to the top tier of the Nations League on Wednesday after winning their top-of-the-table clash with the Czech Republic as the races in the other three League B groups remained extremely tight.

An early Ryan Fraser goal was enough to edge the Scots past their nearest rivals and open up a four-point lead at the top of Group 2, with a single point still separating the top sides in Groups 3 and 4, and Austria and Norway neck and neck in Group 1.

Fraser was a constant threat all night against the Czechs at Hampden Park and struck the decisive blow after just six minutes when target man Lyndon Dykes poked a precise ball through for the Newcastle United attacker to slot home neatly.

Matej Vydra wasted a good first-half chance to equalise for the visitors but Fraser could have made it two just after the half hour but fired over when his pace was too much for the Czech defence.

The solid Scots hung on to complete a successful week after reaching the Euro 2020 playoff finals with a penalty shootout win over Israel, who came back from 2-0 down in the other Group 2 game to shock Slovakia 3-2 thanks to an Eran Zahavi hat-trick.

Finland stayed one point behind leaders Wales in Group 4 after a close-range, second-half strike from Fredrik Jensen extended new Irish coach Stephen Kenny’s winless streak to five games. Jonny Williams struck late as Wales won 1-0 in Bulgaria.

Second-half strikes also put Austria and Norway in control of Group 1 with an own goal from Northern Ireland’s Stuart Dallas handing Norway a 1-0 win, the same scoreline Austria won by in Romania to leave the hosts five points off top spot.

A goalless draw in the day’s other top-of-the-table clash in Moscow kept Russia one point ahead of Hungary in Group 3.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Toby Davis

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