Pick of the Week of Football

Surprise group leaders Iceland and Wales feature in our review of the qualifying action along with hat-trick heroes Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo. Plus: free salmon!

There have been more than 150 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers played so far and you can watch highlights of them all: or see the pick of this week's games in the players below.

Iceland 2-1 Czech Republic
Iceland 2-1 Czech Republic

Team: Iceland
Not the first time they have occupied this slot, but for the team that were ranked 38th and in the fifth seeding pot to go top of a Group A containing the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Turkey cannot be saluted enough. Iceland began Friday trailing visitors the Czech Republic by a point but they came from behind for a 2-1 win, and with home games still to come against Kazakhstan and Latvia, a first final tournament is definitely in their sights.

Joint-coach Heimir Hallgrímsson warned: "We have to be careful not to get ahead of ourselves. We have got here by being focused on the task and not thinking we are so much better than our opponents." Opposite number Pavel Vrba said: "This is a stupid loss, but Iceland played well."

Player: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Poland needed victory against Georgia to keep Germany at bay in Group D but in the 89th minute they held a slim 1-0 lead. Lewandowski had been continually frustrated throughout the match but he finally found the target then added two more in stoppage time for a five-minute hat-trick, Poland's fastest ever and enough to make him top scorer in qualifying so far with seven goals.

Watch quickfire Lewandowski treble
Watch quickfire Lewandowski treble

"For us and for the fans it was worth waiting until the last minute," Lewandowski told UEFA.com." It was something special which doesn't happen very often." Now two clear of Zbigniew Boniek's tally of 24 Poland goals, FC Bayern München striker Lewandowski will be on familiar territory when his nation defend their one-point advantage over Germany in Berlin on 4 September.

Goal: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Lewandowski's was not the only crucial hat-trick on Saturday. Portugal were behind in Armenia when Ronaldo equalised from the spot, then netted twice more in the second half for a 3-2 success that keeps his side top of Group I. His second goal made him the first man ever to 25 UEFA European Championship goals; the third was the pick, though, superbly controlling Rui Patrício's clearance, turning and coolly beating Roman Berezovski from distance.

Highlights: See Ronaldo hat-trick
Highlights: See Ronaldo hat-trick

It was Ronaldo's third treble in as many games after ending the domestic season with two Liga hat-tricks for Real Madrid CF. In all, Ronaldo registered 67 strikes in 60 competitive outings in 2015/16 for club and country, nine times managing three or more in a single fixture.

Number: 50
From the competition's all-time leading marksman to the first player to make 50 UEFA European Championship appearances, Gianluigi Buffon. He marked his half-century with a penalty save in the 1-1 draw in Croatia that leaves the Azzurri within two points of the Group H frontrunners.

See Faroe Islands shock Greece again
See Faroe Islands shock Greece again

Perfect day: Faroe Islands fans
Interest was at an all-time high in Torshavn for the visit of Greece, whom the Faroe Islands had beaten 1-0 away in November. The Faroe Islands Football Association (FSF) offered free salmon for the spectators to thank them for their support, and the collective reward was a 2-1 Group F triumph, lifting the hosts above Finland into fourth.

It is just the fourth time the Faroes have secured maximum points against an opponent in a qualifying group (and none as distinguished as the 2004 champions) and the players were given a reception in Torshavn town centre on Sunday. Coach Lars Olsen said: "The players are happy, the fans are happy, I am happy, everybody is happy!" And not only with the pre-match fish.

Quote: "That was the biggest win but I believe there's a bigger one coming in this campaign. I don't know when it will be. It will be the one which says we're going to France."
Wales manager Chris Coleman confident after the 1-0 scalp of Belgium

Photo: No, he didn't miss from there ... Jonathan Walters scores for the Republic of Ireland against Scotland

©Getty Images


Wales 1-0 Belgium
Wales 1-0 Belgium

Next time:
Almost certainly September's double-header will produce the first definite qualifiers and things really come to the crunch for the surprise contenders like Iceland, Wales, Albania and Northern Ireland. In Groups B and D as many as four teams in each could end the month on top.

Highlights
Thursday 3 September: 20.45CET – Netherlands v Iceland, Belgium v Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria v Norway
Friday 4 September: 20.45CET – Germany v Poland, Hungary v Romania, Denmark v Albania
Saturday 5 September: 18.00CET – Russia v Sweden; 20.45CET – Switzerland v Slovenia, Spain v Slovakia
Sunday 6 September: 18.00CET – Turkey v Netherlands, Norway v Croatia, Wales v Israel; 20.45CET – Italy v Bulgaria, Iceland v Kazakhstan
Monday 7 September: 18.00CET – Armenia v Denmark; 20.45CET – Albania v Portugal, Scotland v Germany, Northern Ireland v Hungary
Tuesday 8 September: 20.45CET – Slovakia v Ukraine, England v Switzerland, Sweden v Austria

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