Sweden Snatch Late Win Over France In World Cup Qualifier
Madrid, June 10 (IANS) Sweden beat France 2-1 and star forward Cristiano Ronaldo got a brace as Portugal rolled over Latvia 3-0 in the sixth round of the European qualifiers for the 2018 football World Cup.
Olivier Giroud on Friday put France 1-0 ahead with an outstanding goal, but Jimmy Durmaz equalised for the hosts just before half-time and the Swedes went on to eke out a win with Ola Toivonen’s goal in the 93rd minute, reports Efe.
The result leaves France and Sweden level on points at 13, but the Nordics take possession of the top spot in Group A by virtue of goal difference.
The Netherlands routed last-placed Luxembourg 5-0 to claim third place in the “group of death,” with 10 points, one ahead of Bulgaria, who lost 1-2 on Friday to Belarus, who boosted their points total to 5.
Attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder became the most capped player in the history of the Dutch football team. On his 33rd birthday, Sneijder played his 131st match for the Netherlands, surpassing the former record set by former goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar (130).
Portugal climbed to 15 points and second place in Group B, where Switzerland leads with 18 points after dispatching the Faroe Islands 2-0 on goals by Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Ronaldo, who was the key to Real Madrid’s triumphs in La Liga and the Champions League, scored two goals and assisted in the third against Latvia, the weakest side in the group.
History was made in Friday’s third Group B contest, as Andorra won their first competitive match since 2004, upsetting third-place Hungary 1-0.
Undefeated Belgium won 2-0 away to Estonia and remained atop Group H with 16 points. Dries Martens scored the first goal for the visitors, while Necer Chadli made it 2-0 for Belgium in the final minutes against an Estonian squad who played the entire second half with 10 men after Artjom Dmitrijev was sent off with a straight red card.
The Belgians now have a 4-point lead over second-placed Greece, who could manage only a scoreless draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Balkan side sit in third place in Group H with 11 points, 4 ahead of Cyprus, 2-1 winners on Friday over Gibraltar, who have yet to earn a point.
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