Belgium and Ronaldo make waves, Swiss stay perfect
Sunday, 13 November 2016
Belgium scored eight and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo was busy as the last evening of European Qualifiers this year also brought wins for the likes of Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Article top media content
- Belgium go clear in Group H by beating Estonia 8-1
- Cristiano Ronaldo hits 67th and 68th Portugal goals in 4-1 defeat of Latvia
- Group B leaders Swizterland extend 100% record
- Netherlands record nervy 3-1 win in Luxembourg
- Next fixtures in these groups: 25 March 2017
Luxembourg 1-3 Netherlands
Memphis Depay came off the bench to score his first international double as the Dutch were made to sweat against a determined Luxembourg side. A clever touch from Davy Klaassen allowed Arjen Robben time and space to sweep in on 36 minutes, but the hosts levelled before the break when Maxime Chanot converted from the spot after Joshua Brenet had clipped Daniel Da Mota.
Depay entered the fray at half-time and scored his first competitive Oranje goal since the 2014 FIFA World Cup by heading in Daley Blind's 58th-minute cross. The Manchester United forward then sealed victory with a deft free-kick late on.
Bulgaria 1-0 Belarus
Ivelin Popov's tenth-minute strike was enough to earn Bulgaria the points on a frustrating evening for Belarus. The visitors dominated possession, had eight corners to the hosts' one and managed more shots, but Vladislav Stoyanov was rarely stretched. Aleksandr Hleb was sent off at the death, and the result could be fatal to Belarus's chances – they are now four points adrift of their fourth-placed opponents in Group A.
Switzerland 2-0 Faroe Islands
Switzerland maintained their perfect start to the European Qualifiers with a fourth win from four games in Group B, taking the lead close to the hour mark when Eren Derdiyok collected a lofted ball from Valon Behrami and aimed a shot through the legs of goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen. Stephan Lichtsteiner then added a little sheen to the scoreline with a late header, after Admir Mehmedi had rattled the post from distance.
Portugal 4-1 Latvia
Cristiano Ronaldo took centre stage as Portugal kept in touch with Switzerland. The Real Madrid man converted a first-half penalty before striking the post with another spot kick after the break – and he was far from done there.
It was Artūrs Zjuzins who struck next, though, mustering a surprise equaliser, yet parity lasted just three minutes as William Carvalho nodded in his first international goal. Ronaldo then volleyed in to go fourth among Europe's all-time scorers, before Bruno Alves salted Latvian wounds late on.
Hungary 4-0 Andorra
Hungary posted a second consecutive win in the section courtesy of a dominant performance, the livewire Balázs Dzsudzsák setting up a pair of first-half goals with right-wing crosses – Zoltán Gera grabbing the first after goalkeeper Josep Gomes had spilled and Ádám Lang turning in the second. Gera played in Ádám Gyurcsó to add a third on 73 minutes, before Ádám Szalai capped the success with a clever back-heeled finish.
Belgium 8-1 Estonia
Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku scored twice as an irresistible Belgium team recorded their biggest victory since September 2005. Thomas Meunier's first goal for his country set the tone, with Mertens and Eden Hazard firing in further efforts inside 25 minutes, though Henri Anier's response stemmed the tide until the break.
Yannick Carrasco swept in the fourth and Ragnar Klavan diverted in Mertens' cross for 5-1, before the Napoli forward claimed the sixth himself with a deft chip. The imperious Lukaku plundered the last two goals in the final seven minutes to make it four wins from four Group H games – with 21 goals scored – for Roberto Martínez's men.
Greece 1-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Giorgos Tzavellas struck what could prove a crucial goal as his fierce last-gasp leveller kept second-placed Greece three points clear of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The visitors had looked set to prevail after Miralem Pjanić's free-kick hit a post and rebounded in off goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, but – following late red cards for both Edin Džeko and Kyriakos Papadopoulos – Tzavellas met a bouncing ball with a wonderful strike deep in added time.
Cyprus 3-1 Gibraltar
Gibraltar had never previously lost a competitive game by fewer than three goals yet they gave out-of-sorts Cyprus a scare in Nicosia. The teams went into the last half-hour all-square after Lee Casciaro cancelled out Constantinos Laifis's first-half strike, but efforts from Pieros Sotiriou and Valentinos Sielis earned Cyprus only their second win in 14 home games to get them off the mark in Group H. Jayce Mascarenhas-Olivero was sent off late on for the visitors.