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Qualifying wrap: France edge Netherlands, Belgium hit six

  • Published at 04:01 am October 11th, 2016
  • Last updated at 09:21 am October 11th, 2016
Qualifying wrap: France edge Netherlands, Belgium hit six
France midfielder Paul Pogba scored with a swirling long-range shot after 30 minutes to secure a vital 1-0 win away to the Netherlands in World Cup qualifying on Monday. The victory at the Amsterdam Arena elevated the Euro 2016 runners-up to overwhelming favourites to finish top of Group A and qualify for the finals in Russia in 2018. France lead on seven points along with Sweden, who won 3-0 against Bulgaria, while Netherlands are third on four points. Although each country still has seven matches left, France's win over the team expected to be their toughest opposition in the section hands Didier Deschamps' side a huge advantage. Pogba hit his shot from midway between the halfway line and the edge of the Dutch penalty area and it swerved wickedly to fox goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who might have done better with his diving effort as he tried to save it. The Netherlands made vociferous claims for a penalty four minutes before halftime when the ball struck Laurent Koscielny's arm as he dived to block Vincent Janssen's close-range shot but Slovenian referee Damir Skomina turned down the Dutch appeals. GROUP A Results: Belarus 1 Savitski 80   Luxembourg 1 Joachim 85 Netherlands 0   France 1 Pogba 30 Sweden 3 Toivonen 39, Hiljemark 45, Lindeloef 58   Bulgaria 0 Standings P W D L F A Pts 1 France 3 2 1 0 5 1 7 2 Sweden 3 2 1 0 5 1 7 3 Netherlands 3 1 1 1 5 3 4 4 Bulgaria 3 1 0 2 5 10 3 5 Belarus 3 0 2 1 2 5 2 6 Luxembourg 3 0 1 2 4 6 1  

Silva hat-trick for Portugal brings Faroes down to earth

Portugal's Andre Silva scored a first-half hat-trick to set them on the way to a 6-0 demolition of the Faroe Islands in a World Cup qualifier on Monday, handing their opponents a reality check after they won in Latvia. Cristiano Ronaldo was also on target in the Group B game as Portugal hit six goals for the second time in four days following their rout of Andorra on Friday. Portugal went second in the group with six points from three games, three behind Switzerland who edged Andorra 2-1 away to maintain their 100 percent record. The Faroes are fourth after taking four points from their first two matches without conceding a goal, but they found the European champions a different proposition to Hungary and Latvia, who they beat 2-0 on Friday. The hosts were never in contention after Silva took advantage of a sliced clearance to put Portugal ahead with a clinical finish in the 12th minute. The 20-year-old, who had scored once for his country before the game, doubled his tally 10 minutes later, heading in after Ricardo Quaresma's cross caused havoc in the area. GROUP B Result: Andorra 1 Martinez 90+1   Switzerland 2 Schaer 19 (pen), Mehmedi 77 Faroe Islands 0   Portugal 6 Andre Silva 12,22,37, Ronaldo 65, Moutinho 90+1, Cancelo 90+3 Latvia 0   Hungary 2 Gyurcso 10, Szalai 77 Standings P W D L F A Pts 1 Switzerland 3 3 0 0 7 3 9 2 Portugal 3 2 0 1 12 2 6 3 Hungary 3 1 1 1 4 3 4 4 Faroe Islands 3 1 1 1 2 6 4 5 Latvia 3 1 0 2 1 4 3 6 Andorra 3 0 0 3 1 9 0

Benteke nets hat-trick as Belgium hit six

Christian Benteke struck the fastest goal in a World Cup qualifier and went on to grab a hat-trick as Belgium thrashed Gibraltar 6-0 to stay top of Group H on goal difference. The Crystal Palace striker stole the ball in the home side's half straight from the kickoff and weaved his way through Gibralter's defence to score from inside the area. Benteke celebrated the record-breaking strike, also the fastest goal scored by a Belgium international, by holding up six fingers, thinking he had scored after six seconds. [caption id="attachment_21315" align="alignright" width="300"] Belgium's Christian Benteke celebrates his goal against Gibraltar[/caption] Axel Witsel scored from 25 metres after 19 minutes to double Roberto Martinez's side's advantage and Benteke scored his second shortly before halftime when he turned in Thomas Meunier's cut back from six yards. After Dries Martens scored the fourth with a dinked finish in the 51st minute Benteke completed his hat-trick five minutes later with a backheel from Eden Hazard's pass. Chelsea forward Hazard then added to his assist by completing the rout in the 78th minute. Belgium top Group H on nine points thanks to their superior goal difference over Greece, who also extended their 100 percent start by winning 2-0 in Estonia. GROUP H Result: Bosnia 2 Dzeko 70,80   Cyprus 0 Estonia 0   Greece 2 Torosidis 1, Stafylidis 61 Gibraltar 0   Belgium 6 Benteke 1,43,55, Witsel 19, Mertens 51, Hazard 79 Standings P W D L F A Pts 1 Belgium 3 3 0 0 13 0 9 2 Greece 3 3 0 0 8 1 9 3 Bosnia 3 2 0 1 7 4 6 4 Estonia 3 1 0 2 4 7 3 5 Cyprus 3 0 0 3 0 7 0 6 Gibraltar 3 0 0 3 1 14 0
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