Football

Italy seal Euro 2016 place, Holland keep hopes alive

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Italy made sure of their place at Euro 2016 with a match to spare by beating Azerbaijan 3-1 in Baku.

Antonio Conte's men began the day with a two-point lead at the top of Group H, knowing victory would see them on a flight to France next summer.

And they overcame the nerves to complete the task, with Eder opening the scoring after 11 minutes.

Dmitri Nazarov's equaliser in the 32nd minute gave Italy a fright but goals from Stephan El Shaarawy (43) and Matteo Darmian (65) made sure of the win.

Badavi Huseynov's dismissal two minutes from time capped a bad night for Azerbaijan but Italy preserved their advantage over Norway, who made it three wins on the trot with a 2-0 result at home to Malta.

Goals from Alexander Tettey and Alexander Soderlund wrapped up the points, but they must wait for the result of the match between Croatia and Bulgaria to see whether they will join the Italians at the European Championship.

Norway would progress if Croatia fail to win in Zagreb.

Holland kept their play-off hopes alive and kicking in Group A with a 2-1 victory in Kazakhstan.

Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder were the scorers as Oranje bounced back from two successive defeats to reclaim third spot ahead of Turkey, who play the Czech Republic later on Saturday.

Islambek Kuat's reply came too late for Kazakhstan, who have yet to win in the group.

Iceland have already qualified for next summer's tournament but their hopes of finishing top of Group A were hit by a 2-2 draw at home to Latvia.

The island nation appeared to be on course for an easy win following first-half goals from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Gylfi Sigurdsson, but Latvia battled back after the break to rescue a draw with Aleksandrs Cauna and Valerijs Sabala on target.

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