The Faroe Islands were shock winners in Greece, and Cristiano Ronaldo added another record to his collection; UEFA.com looks back on three days of surprises.
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Cristiano Ronaldo added a UEFA European Championship record to his "gallery", Pavel Vrba came home and the Faroe Islands secured the greatest of a host of shock results in the final European Qualifiers of 2014.
Team: Faroe Islands
A decade on from ending the year as European champions, Greece will finish 2014 smarting from one of the most humiliating results in their history, though no one – Greek players or outgoing coach Claudio Ranieri included – begrudged the Faroes the success Joán Edmundsson's 61st-minute goal in Piraeus earned them. "We should congratulate our opponents on their performance and determination," said midfielder Panagiotis Kone; "The Faroese deserved to win," added Ranieri.
In a week of surprises where Malta and San Marino picked up historic points, Liechtenstein won away, and Gibraltar kept world champions Germany down to a 4-0 win, Lars Olsen's Faroes deserved the greatest praise. "This is the Faroe Islands' biggest victory for many years," glowed the coach. "There is of course that famous win over Austria a long time ago, but Greece are a stronger football nation."
Player: George Efrem (Cyprus)
A 5-0 win against Andorra may not have been a turn-up for the books, but as Cyprus matched their biggest ever international victory – a 5-0 win against the same opponents in 2000 – APOEL FC winger Efrem had the honour of scoring his first international goals, and indeed the first senior international hat-trick in his nation's history, to leave Cyprus's dream of a first major finals tournament appearance very much alive.
"I scored my first goals for the national side but it's been a while since I scored at all, so I'm delighted," the 25-year-old told UEFA.com. "We know that there are no easy games any more."
Goal: Franz Burgmeier
Isco's effort in Spain's 3-0 victory is worth watching too, but in a week when underdogs had their day, Franz Burgmeier's free-kick in Saturday's 1-0 away win against Moldova slightly outshone the Real Madrid CF man's effort. "We play defensive football," explaned Liechtenstein coach René Pauritsch. "From time to time it produces good results. Tonight is a holiday for us."
Homecoming: Pavel Vrba (Czech Republic)
Former FC Viktoria Plzeň boss Pavel Vrba received a rapturous send-off when he left the club to coach his country, and got a hero's welcome when he returned to lead the Czech Republic in a Group A game against Iceland. Over 4,000 turned up in Plzen just to watch Vrba's side train, and fans displayed a huge banner bearing his picture in the stands ahead of the game – in which the Czechs came from behind to secure their fourth straight qualifying win. "I saw the banner with my portrait on in the stands and that was something amazing," the 50-year-old said. "My biggest thanks go to the fans for not abandoning us after that first goal was conceded. They stood behind us, supported us and I must praise them – thanks to our fans we feel at home in Plzen."
Tweets: Defender Michal Kadlec and the Czech Republic celebrating their victory against Iceland on the team bus.
Poland's Grzegorz Krychowiak takes us behind the scenes after his side's 4-0 win in Georgia.
Cristiano Ronaldo's scrambled finish in Portugal's 1-0 win against Armenia made him the highest scorer in the history of the UEFA European Championship – qualifying and final tournaments combined.
"I knew it would happen sooner or later and I was not obsessed with that because I will play many more games for the national team," Ronaldo said afterwards. "But of course I'm happy, mainly because I broke the record in Portugal in front of our supporters. It is another special moment for me and I am certain it will be in my gallery."
Photo: Burak Yılmaz celebrating one of his two goals against Kazakhstan, which helped Turkey get out of the doldrums.
The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Israel and England will look to extend perfect starts in their first European Qualifiers of 2015. The Netherlands and Turkey still have catching up to do as they meet in Group A, while Liechtenstein will look to secure unprecedented back to back wins as they meet neighbours Austria.
Friday 27 March: 20.45CET – Spain v Ukraine, Liechtenstein v Austria
Saturday 28 March: 18.00CET – Croatia v Norway; 20.45CET – Netherlands v Turkey
Sunday 29 March: 18.00CET – Georgia v Germany; 20.45CET – Republic of Ireland v Poland
Tuesday 31 March: 20.45CET – Israel v Belgium