World Cup Qualifiying Round-Up: Switzerland Outplay Portugal, Dutch & Swedes Draw As France Are Held
Switzerland shocked the reigning Euro Champions Portugal after clinching a 2-0 victory in their Group B World Cup Qualifier clash on Tuesday. Goals from Breel Embolo and Admir Mehmedi were enough to put the game away from Portugal’s reach, who strongly felt the absence of Renato Sanches.
Portugal’s Euro 2016 hero Eder, who scored the last gasp winning goal against France to help Fernando Santos’ side to clinch their first major title in a competitive tournament, looked completely out of shape in Tuesday’s clash against Switzerland. Nani was not convincing enough and failed to penetrate the opposition defence and also lacked the finishing on the final ball. On the contrary, Switzerland looked strong on the counter and allowed Portugal no space inside the box.
Meanwhile, European championship finalists France made a stuttering start to their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign as they were held to a goalless draw by Belarus in Borisov on Tuesday night.
The Belarusians comported themselves well in the first half, not allowing the French special liberties, and making moves to threaten Deschamps’ team. But almost from the beginning of the second half, the French persistently pushed forward. Still, Belarusian goalkeeper Andrei Gorbunov was very reliable that evening, time after time eliminating the attacks of the guests.
Now with one point in hand, France will focus their sights on moving toward the top of the Group A table as they meet Bulgaria on Oct. 7.
In another Group A match Netherlands locked horns with Sweden on Tuesday. Marcus Berg opened the account for Sweden minutes before the half-time break. However, Wesley Sneijder clinched the much needed equaliser to guarantee a point for Danny Blind’s side.
Bulgaria sits at the top of the group after defeating Luxembourg 4-3 in an exciting 7-goal thriller. D. Rangelov opened the scoring for Bulgaria but a brace from Aurelien Joachim put Luxembourg on the driving seat. The Bulgarians came back strong and Marcelinho scored the equaliser in the 65th minute followed by Ivelin Popov’s goal with ten minutes remaining which put them ahead in the match. Florian Bohnert looked to have secured the winning goal for Luxembourg, but Aleksandar Tonev netted in a last gasp winner for Bulgaria.
In Group H, former Man City forward Edin Dzeko proved his class as Bosnia-Herzegovina thrashed Estonia 5-0. In another fixture, Everton satr striker Romelu Lukakau displayed is goalscoring prowess as Belgium humiliated Cyprus 5-0 to secure their first win the qualifying campaign.
Belarus 0-0 France
Bulgaria 4-3 Luxembourg
Sweden 1-1 Netherlands
Andorra 0-1 Latvia
Faroe Islands 0-0 Hungary
Switzerland 2-0 Portugal
Albania 2-1 Macedonia
Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Estonia
Cyprus 0-3 Belgium
Gibraltar 1-4 Greece