London (AFP) – Sweden slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat in Georgia on Thursday handing Spain a lifeline in their bid to secure qualification for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia struck twice in the second half for the hosts in Tblisi as a Sweden side boasting Zlatan Ibrahimovic and rising star Alexander Isak were humbled.
Spain can now go to the top of Group B when they face Greece in Athens later on Thursday.
Sweden’s stumble means even if Spain fail to take all three points, they will have a second chance to secure their place in Qatar when they host the Swedes in Seville on Sunday.
Russia smashed Cyprus 6-0 in St Petersburg to move to within a point of qualification.
A double from Aleksandr Erokhin plus second half goals from Fedor Smolov, Andrei Mostovoy, Aleksei Sutormin and Anton Zabolotny took the Russians five points clear of Croatia in Group H.
Should the 2018 World Cup finalists fail to win in Malta later, Russia will be assured of top spot in the section.
Portugal will be looking to go top of Group A when they travel to the Republic of Ireland, while already-qualified Germany host Liechtenstein.
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