By Izuchukwu Okosi:
The race for places in the 2018 FIFA World Cup continued on Friday night across Europe with qualification games in groups D, G and I.
Italy defeated Albania 2-0 at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in their Group G fixture.
The Italians were hoping to topple joint group leaders Spain and their goals came through Daniele de Rossi, who converted from the penalty spot in the 12th minute, and Ciro Immobile in the 71st minute.
It was a historic night for keeper Gigi Buffon who was playing his 1,000th professional game and winning a record 168th cap for the Azurri.
Spain triumphed 4-1 over Israel at the Estadio El Municipal Molinon.
David Silva, Vitolo, Diego Costa and Isco were scorers for the former world champions. Spain and Italy are tied on 13 points at the top of the table.
The Rheinpark Stadium witnessed the last Group G game of the night as visitors Macedonia defeated Liechtenstein 3-0.
Illija Netorovski grabbed a brace, while 22-year-old Boban Nikolov scored the other.
Nikola Kalinic finished off an Ivan Rakitic assist as Croatia defeated Ukraine in Group I 1-0 while Turkey in the same group got the better of Finland with a 2-0 win at home courtesy of a brace from Cenk Tosun.
Cenk Tosun hit a ninth minute left footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner. His goal was assisted by Olcay Sahan.
Tosun doubled the lead just four minutes later off a header but there were no more goals in the game after Tosun’s brace despite Turkey’s domination.
Turkey managed their first win of this World Cup qualifying campaign last time out when they beat Kosovo 2-0 at home back in November 2016.
Iceland pipped home side Kosovo 2-1 in the last Group I on Friday night.
Serbia defeated Georgia 3-1 in their Group D contest.
Nika Katcharava scored for Georgia early in the game but Dusan Tadic (penalty), Aleksandar Mitrovic and Mijat Gacinovic second half strikes ensured a vital away win for the Serbs.
Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey started for Wales but they were held to a scoreless draw by Republic of Ireland in another game Group D, where Wales bagged a red caed through Neil Taylor..
Austria defeated Moldova 2-0 in the last fixture from the group.