World Cup Qualification: UEFA  – France win but Netherlands lose; Ronaldo bags brace but  Switzerland win to top group; Lukaku  scores as Belgium draw with Greece

​GROUP A

Sweden 4 – 0 Belarus

Bulgaria 2 – 0 Netherlands

Luxembourg 1 – 3 France

  • Bulgaria 20 Netherlands

Bulgaria stayed on course to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998 after Spas Delev gave them a 2-0 win over toothless Netherlands in a Group A Qualifier on Saturday with his first international goals.

After the win at the Vasil Levski stadium, Petar Hubchevs men climbed to third in the group standings with nine points from five matches, one point behind Sweden and four behind leaders France. 

Netherlands are fourth on seven.

The lively Delev struck twice in quick succession in the first 20 minutes, pouncing on sloppy defending by 17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt, who became the youngest Netherlands player since 1931.

De Ligt, who has started in just two league games for his club Ajax Amsterdam, could not have made a worse international debut as he misjudged Simeon Slavchev’s long pass, allowing Delev to poke the ball beyond keeper Jeroen Zoet after five minutes.

Delev then punished yet more hesitant defending by De Ligt with a thunderous shot midway through the first half.

  • Luxembourg 13 France

France saw off a spirited challenge from Luxembourg to win 3-1 at Stade Josy Barthel and stay clear at the top of World Cup Qualifying Group A.

Les Bleus took the lead through a close-range finish from Olivier Giroud before both teams won penalties in the space of four first-half minutes.

Aurelien Joachim drew Luxembourg level from the spot in the 34th minute after Blaise Matuidi pushed over Daniel Da Mota.

Da Mota, though, then quickly gave away another penalty at the other end when he tripped Djibril Sidibe, and Antoine Griezmann put France back in front.

Giroud nodded in a late third to secure the victory which sees France move back above Sweden.

  • Sweden 40 Belarus

Sweden defeated Belarus 4-0 in Solna.

Emil Forsberg scored twice, the first from the penalty spot for Sweden, before goals from Marcus Berg and Isaac Kiese Thelin completed a comfortable win at the Friends Arena over Belarus.

GROUP B

Andorra 0 – 0 Faroe  Islands

Switzerland 1 – 0 Latvia

Portugal 3 – 0 Hungary

  • Portugal 3 – 0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice and Andre Silva added another as Portugal tightened their grip on second place in Group B with a 3-0 thrashing of Hungary.

Silva opened the scoring on 32 minutes. Ronaldo’s run through the middle found Raphael Guerreiro on the left of the box, whose cross found an unmarked Silva at the goal mouth to tap in.

Ronaldo then collected his first of the night four minutes later. The Real Madrid star pounced onto a back-heeled pass from Silva outside of the box and lashed an unstoppable left-footed shot past Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi from 20 yards out.

And he completed his brace five minutes after the hour mark, expertly curling a free kick around Gulacsi before skipping inside the far post from a difficult angle on the left.

The victory gives the Euro 2016 champions 12 points from five matches, three behind first-placed Switzerland.

  • Switzerland 1 – 0 Latvia

Switzerland earned a 1-0 win at home over Latvia to stay top of the group.

Josip Drmic scored the key goal in the 66th minute, heading home from five yards out following a cross from Admir Mehmedi.

  • Andorra 0 – 0 Faroe  Islands

Andorra earned their first point of the campaign by holding Faroe Islands to a goalless draw.

The result ended Andorra’s run of 58 competitive defeats stretching back more than 11 years.

GROUP H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5 – 0 Gibraltar

Cyprus 0 – 0 Estonia

Belgium 1 – 1 Greece

  • Belgium 1 – 1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku struck late to rescue a 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw for depleted Belgium on Saturday against Greece, who were down to 10 men for the final 25 minutes and finished with nine.

Lukaku’s turn and shot in the 89th minute cancelled out the opener from Kostas Mitroglou, who scored just 18 seconds after half-time in the visitors’ first real attack of the game, to keep Belgium top of Group H.

Belgium, missing injured Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, took advantage of Panagiotis Tachtsidis’ dismissal in the 65th minute for a second yellow card as they subjected the Greek defence to a wave of attacks.

Giorgos Tzavellas was also sent off for a second yellow after a scuffle broke out deep into injury time.

Belgium had destroyed the other four group opponents, scoring 21 goals to just one against, while Greece came into the match undefeated.

The hosts were playing only for the second time since 2012 without both Hazard and De Bruyne, their two most creative forces.

With right-back Thomas Meunier also absent, Roberto Martinez had called the match the biggest test of his near eight-month stint as national coach.

Greek cheers and hugs at the end showed their delight with a point away against the group favourites. Belgium lead with 13 points, two more than Greece, with Bosnia on 10.

  • Bosnia-Herzegovina 5 – 0 Gibraltar

Bosnia and Herzegovina moved to within three points of the top with a 5-0 win over minnows Gibraltar thanks to a Vedad Ibisevic brace.

The hosts were in front within four minutes after Ibisevic controlled a long pass from Miralem Pjanic, then added a second before the break when Ibisevic headed in Edin Visca’s short cross from point-blank range.

Avdija Vrsajevic added a third seven minutes into the second half, Visca got a goal of his own from a half-volley four minutes later, and Ermin Bicakcic wrapped up the points in stoppage time.

  • Cyprus 0 – 0 Estonia

Cyprus were held to a goalless draw by Estonia in a result that leaves both nations on four points, above only Gibraltar.

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