World Cup 2018 qualifying round-up: Cristiano Ronaldo leads Portugal to Russia and France top Group A

Portugal, France and Belgium all booked their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while Sweden, Switzerland and Greece will all have to make do with the playoffs

Luke Brown
Tuesday 10 October 2017 22:20
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Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal have made it to the 2018 World Cup
Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal have made it to the 2018 World Cup

European champions Portugal beat Switzerland in Lisbon last night to automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, while France also made sure of their spot at the tournament by winning at home to Belarus.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal began the night in second-place in Group B, needing to take all three points against league leaders Switzerland to seal an automatic spot at the next summer’s tournament.

The Swiss had won all nine of their group stage matches heading into the fixture, but started nervously and were lucky not to concede in the opening stages.

The breakthrough eventually came via an own-goal by the former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou just before halftime, and a goal from striker Andre Silva early in the second half was enough to wrap the game up for Portugal, who have won nine straight matches following their opening 2-0 loss to the Swiss last year.

The result meant that both countries finished with 27 points, but Portugal topped the group on account of their superior goal difference. Switzerland will now drop into the playoffs as one of the four seeded nations.

In the same group, Hungary beat the Faroe Islands 1-0 to finish third, with Latvia beating minnows Andorra 4-0.

Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann scored one goal and made the other as France beat Belarus 2-1 to top group A.

After strike partner Olivier Giroud hit the crossbar with a close-range header, Griezmann scored in the 27th minute. Three minutes later, he turned provider for Giroud, who held off a defender before slotting the ball into the bottom corner for his 28th international goal.

France finished four points above Sweden, who lost 2-0 to the Netherlands but booked their spot in the playoffs on goal difference. Arjen Robeen scored twice for the Netherlands but his side finished 5 goals behind Sweden, who will be one of the unseeded teams for next week's playoff draw. The 2018 World Cup will be the second consecutive international tournament the Dutch have missed out on.

Griezmann was in superb form for France, who have automatically qualified

Elsewhere, Eden Hazard fired Belgium to their fifth straight World Cup qualifying victory, scoring twice in a comfortable 4-0 win over Cyprus. The result saw the country finished top of Group H, with Greece winning by the same scoreline against Gibraltar to finish second.

Greece’s victory meant that Bosnia-Herzogovina’s narrow 2-1 win over Estonia was in vain, with Edin Džeko side missing out on the playoffs by two points.

Qualified teams: France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium, Iceland.

Playoffs: Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Croatia (all seeded); Sweden, Northern Ireland, Greece, Republic of Ireland (all unseeded).

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