Qatar have been invited by UEFA to join a World Cup qualifying group containing European champions Portugal ahead of hosting the tournament in 2022.

The Asian champions' results in Group A, which also contains the Republic of Ireland, Serbia, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg, will not count towards qualification as they are already assured of a place in the finals given their status as hosts.

They will face each side twice, but their 'home' matches will be staged in Europe to allow shorter flight times for their opponents.

It is hoped that Qatar, who are also set to play in the Copa America and Gold Cup next year, will gain further experience from competing against European nations such as Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.

UEFA confirmed the news on Tuesday and announced Qatar would begin their campaign against Luxembourg at a neutral venue yet to be confirmed on March 24, 2021.

Felix Sanchez Bas' side, who are ranked 59th in the world and won their first ever Asian Cup with a 3-1 win over Japan in last year's final, will take on Portugal next September and October.

Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic has tested positive for coronavirus after returning from international duty with Serbia.

The 22-year-old was tested on Friday following his return to Spain after he scored twice in his country's 5-0 Nations League win over Russia on Wednesday. 

Jovic is now set to miss Saturday's visit to Villarreal in LaLiga and Wednesday's Champions League clash with Inter at San Siro. 

The Madrid man featured in all three of Serbia's games during the international break and scored in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-off against Scotland, which his side lost on penalties. 

Jovic's struggles for Madrid have continued at the start of this season, failing to score in five appearances across all competitions. 

In LaLiga, he has mustered just six shots, hitting the target only once as he has passed up two big chances. He has created a mere two opportunities for his team-mates.

Jovic scored twice in his debut league campaign in Spain, having netted 17 for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga in 2018-19.

Madrid suffered a thumping 4-1 defeat to Valencia before the international break and are fourth in LaLiga, four points behind leaders Real Sociedad, who have played a game more.

Luka Jovic has struggled since joining Real Madrid last year, but the Serbia star put his goalscoring woes behind him during the international window.

Jovic swapped Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt for Madrid in a €60million transfer in 2019, however, he has only managed two goals in 32 appearances for the LaLiga champions.

Out of favour and out of touch in the Spanish capital, Jovic returned to form for Serbia in the latest international break.

After scoring in Serbia's stunning Euro 2020 play-off defeat to Scotland last week, Jovic netted a brace as the Balkan side routed Russia 5-0 in Nations League action on Wednesday.

With three goals in as many games for Serbia, it means Jovic had more goals for the national team than his entire career with Los Blancos.

Jovic has not scored for Madrid since their 4-1 LaLiga demolition of Osasuna in February this year.

The 22-year-old has started twice in his four league appearances for Madrid in 2020-21, only managing one shot on target – a shooting accuracy of 16.7 per cent – as he eyes his opening goal of the campaign.

In the Champions League, Jovic has featured once and just like LaLiga, he has only mustered one shot on target for Zinedine Zidane's men.

Inter defender Aleksandar Kolarov has tested positive for coronavirus after returning from international duty with Serbia.

The 35-year-old full-back was tested on Monday following his return to Italy after he was an unused substitute in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Scotland that denied Serbia a place in the European Championship next year.

Inter say Kolarov is asymptomatic, but he looks set to miss the Serie A clash with Torino on Sunday and a Champions League encounter with Real Madrid next week.

An Inter statement said: "FC Internazionale Milano can confirm that Aleksandar Kolarov tested positive yesterday as he went through checks upon his return from international duty.

"The player, who is totally asymptomatic, will now follow all of the guidelines and procedures laid out by the health protocol."

Kolarov has made six appearances in all competitions for Inter this season, creating eight chances and supplying one assist.

The only Nerazzurri defenders to supply more key passes are Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young (both 10), and they have also set up two goals each.

However, Hakimi has featured in nine games and Young has participated in seven.

 

 

Andy Robertson said he had never felt as much emotion after a game as he did following Scotland's penalty shoot-out success over Serbia that secured their place at Euro 2020.

Ryan Christie put Scotland ahead in the 52nd minute of the play-off final in Belgrade, but substitute Luka Jovic equalised at the end of normal time to force an additional half an hour.

David Marshall made a great save to deny Nemanja Gudelj in extra time and then kept Aleksandar Mitrovic's spot-kick out to send Scotland to their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

Robertson, who has won the Premier League and Champions League with Liverpool, was overwhelmed after Steve Clarke's men booked a spot in Group D alongside England, Croatia and Czech Republic.

"I don't think I can [sum it up]. There was so much emotion going into the game, and then you get so close and they end up equalising," Robertson told Sky Sports.

"You have to pick yourself up for extra time, which we did. When you get to penalties, you always back Marshy and it's just whether the lads can hold their nerve, and they managed to do it.

"We've come so far with this squad and I back every one of them as they've come through a lot of criticism and a lot of negativity at times. We've stuck together and battled through it.

"I really hope everyone back home can see the positive side to this as we're absolutely delighted. I really hope that during a really tough time, we've managed to put a smile on a lot of faces.

"It's the most emotional I've been after a game but we can look forward to next summer now."

Robertson played through discomfort in his left hamstring during extra time, something Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will hope does not have ramifications amid a defensive injury crisis at Anfield.

The Scotland skipper missed time at the end of last season due to a left hamstring issue.

"I think I was next or seventh [to take a penalty] but my hamstring had seized up in the second half of extra time, just a bit of cramp and it was my left one so I was a bit worried it was going to cramp up," said Robertson

Christie's opener was his sixth goal involvement in as many appearances for Scotland and he hopes their success can be the starting point for more regular major tournament appearances.

"It's been a horrible year for everyone and we knew we could give something back to the country and I hope everyone back home is having a party tonight, because we deserve it," said Christie, his voice breaking due to emotion.

"We've been through so many years. We know it, you know it, everyone knows it. It's a monkey off the back and we can move on from here."

Scotland are now unbeaten in nine consecutive matches in all competitions, last going longer without defeat during a run of 11 games that ended in February 1930.

David Marshall was the hero as Scotland secured their place at next year's Euro 2020 by beating Serbia 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their play-off final in a sodden Belgrade.

Scotland looked set to make it through to their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup in normal time thanks to Ryan Christie's brilliant strike in the 52nd minute.

However, Luka Jovic, who replaced Nemanja Maksimovic in the 70th minute, converted a free header 20 minutes later and the teams could not be separated after an additional half an hour.

It went to a penalty shoot-out and Marshall saved Aleksandar Mitrovic's spot-kick to ensure Steve Clarke's men will go up against rivals England, Croatia and Czech Republic in Group D at next year's European Championship.

Manchester City have agreed a deal to sign Partizan Belgrade winger Filip Stevanovic in the next transfer window, it was announced on Saturday.

The Serbia Under-21 international had been linked with several clubs in Europe, including City's Premier League rivals Manchester United.

City did not immediately confirm the deal but a statement on the Serbian club's website said the 18-year-old will soon become part of Pep Guardiola's squad.

The statement said: "Partizan are pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached on the transfer of Filip Stevanovic to Manchester City, in the winter transfer window in 2021.

"The transfer of Filip Stevanovic to one of the largest European clubs is a significant confirmation of the good and hard work of all club structures."

Stevanovic has risen through the youth ranks at Partizan and made his senior debut in December 2018 when aged 16.

The teenager has scored three goals in 11 league appearances for Partizan this season.

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has retired from international football, according to Serbia's sporting director Vladimir Matijasevic.

Reports began to circulate on Thursday claiming Matic had opted to quit Serbia despite being named in their most recent squad.

Matijasevic, who works as a director for the Football Association of Serbia (FSS), confirmed the decision on Friday.

He claims Matic has brought his international career to a close to allow for younger players to have prominence in the senior side.

Matic, 32, played 48 times for Serbia since 2008 and represented them at the 2018 World Cup, but he will now give United his sole focus.

"When I came to the FSS, I talked to [Aleksandar] Mitrovic, [Luka] Milivojevic and Matic," Matijasevic is quoted as saying by Serbian publication Tanjug.

"Nemanja said then that he would return, but he had some decisions of his own that have nothing to do with us.

"We talked a few days ago, I called him on the phone, we also agreed to have coffee if our time and obligations allowed it.

"It was an extremely pleasant conversation. He is determined to put an end to his national team career.

"He did not state more specific reasons – he knows why this is the case and pointed out that it is time for younger players to take his place.

"I repeat, it was not persuasion, but only a conversation. I respect his opinion. He is 32 years old, he had a difficult season behind him, it is necessary to have understanding.

"The selector [Ljubisa Tumbakovic] also talked to him, about which you will surely hear more at the press conference on Monday. This is Nemanja's decision, we must respect that."

Matic's days at United looked numbered towards the start of the 2019-20 season as he showed significant signs of decline and the improvement of younger players such as Fred and Scott McTominay led to reduced playing time.

But the former Chelsea midfielder enjoyed a resurgence after the turn of the year, with 15 of his 18 Premier League starts last term coming in 2020.

He was then handed a new three-year contract in July, a reward for particularly fine form following the Premier League's return from the coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

Luka Jovic will return to the Serbia squad for their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Norway in March after a "misunderstanding" was resolved, the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) announced on Monday.

The Real Madrid striker was released from international duty in September citing an injury, only to then feature for his club in LaLiga four days later.

Serbia head coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic was reportedly irked, and Jovic has not played for his country since.

However, with a key clash against Norway coming up on March 26, FSS sporting director Vladimir Matijasevic and Tumbakovic have held meetings with Jovic to get one of their star men back on board.

"First FSS sporting director Matijasevic and then coach Tumbakovic have had a meeting with Serbian national team player Luka Jovic over the past few days, after which it is clear the Real Madrid striker is absolutely ready to be available in March matches," the FSS posted on its Twitter page.

"On both sides, everything that needed to be said was said, the misunderstanding was resolved and, most importantly, the conclusion was that everyone agreed that Serbia's interest was above all.

"Qualification for the European Championship was a common goal."

Jovic netted in a qualifying win against Lithuania in June but has scored only once in LaLiga since his €60million move from Eintracht Frankfurt to Madrid ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Nemanja Matic admits it is tough to pick a favourite for Euro 2020 but believes England have "their best team in the last 20 years" ahead of the tournament.

Next year's finals will see 24 nations involved, with the final four spots to be decided by play-offs in March.

Reigning champions Portugal will be aiming to defend their title, while France - beaten on home soil in the final in 2016 - are out to follow up their success at the World Cup last year.

Matic hopes to help Serbia to glory, though he will not be surprised if two of the leading contenders are left fighting it out for the trophy at Wembley Stadium on July 12.

As for England, who would have home advantage should they progress to the semi-finals and final, the Manchester United midfielder is impressed by the talent available to Gareth Southgate, who steered the Three Lions to the last four in Russia.

"It's hard to say who my favourite is [for Euro 2020]," Matic told Omnisport.

“My favourite is my country, but I think Germany are always dangerous. Croatia have a good team, they played in the final of the World Cup.

“Spain are an amazing team, France too. It's hard to say who the favourite is.

“With England, I think it's time to make something. We'll see if they're ready. I think England now has their best team in the last 20 years, maybe I'm not right, but that's my opinion.

Scotland have been drawn against Israel in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-finals.

Aiming to reach their first major finals in 22 years, Steve Clarke's side will face Israel in a one-legged tie at Hampden Park on March 26.

The winner of that match will go on to face either Norway or Serbia in the Path C final five days later.

Scotland beat Israel 3-2 at Hampden Park last November en route to topping their Nations League group and Clarke is after a repeat result in four months' time.

"The draw is what it is," he told Sky Sports News. "I never get too carried away about who you are going to play. 

"It would been nice to repeat the home win, but the match will come with its own level of pressure, which we will have to embrace.

"Being at home is very important for us. I'm sure Hampden will be full, with the Tartan Army on the march. It's a great stadium when it's full, so if we start fast we can get them all behind us."

Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland are on course to meet in the Path B final, having been drawn away to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovakia respectively in the semis.

In Path A, Romania travel to Iceland and Bulgaria host Hungary, while Belarus are at Georgia and North Macedonia face Kosovo in Path D.

The four play-off winners will join the 20 teams that have already qualified for the finals, which will take place in 12 different cities next year.

Serbia have been ordered to keep supporters out of their next UEFA fixture at home after "racist behaviour" from fans during a September match against Portugal.

UEFA announced the ban on home fans – which is for two matches, with one suspended for a probationary period of 12 months – on Monday.

Portugal beat Serbia 4-2 in Belgrade in a Euro 2020 qualifier in September that was marred by the behaviour of the home supporters.

UEFA charged the Football Association of Serbia with six offences, including racist behaviour, illicit chants, the setting off of fireworks and field invasions by supporters.

There were also two charges for a late kick-off.

A UEFA statement said the organisation's control, ethics and disciplinary body would "order the Football Association of Serbia to play their next two UEFA competition matches as host association behind closed doors, the second of which is suspended during a probationary period of one year, for the racist behaviour of its supporters".

UEFA added: "The Serbian FA is ordered to display a banner with the wording #EqualGame with the UEFA logo on it, in the next UEFA competition match which the association will play as the host".

The Serbian FA was also hit with a €33,250 fine, while Ljubisa Tumbakovic was warned about the late kick-off.

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