2018 WCQ: Belgium through to Russia, as France struggle

2018 WCQ: Belgium through to Russia, as France struggle

Belgium became the first European nation to qualify for the World Cup next year, outside the hosts, Russia, thanks to a difficult but well deserved 1-2 win in Greece. All the goals come in the second half.

Meanwhile, in other groups, the Netherlands revived their world cup hopes with a solid win, while France underwhelmed against lowly Luxembourg, who have thrown the group open.

Portugal and Switzerland remain locked in a battle of supremacy in Group B, while Croatia finally are back to the top following their delayed match against Kosovo.

Kylian Mbappe

It’s the round up of matches in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, as Europe enters match day 8.

Group A

France 0-0 Luxembourg

Les Bleus were held to a disappointing goalless draw at home by Luxembourg, who picked up an unlikely point that has thrown the group open.

Despite dominating the tie, and firing 30 shots at Luxembourg, the French side failed to break down their very organized and obdurate visitors.

But in Belarus, it was Sweden who were bouncing back, after their loss to Bulgaria, as they thrashed their host 4-0, while in Holland, the Orange revived their slim world cup hopes thanks to an inspired Davy Propper performance, which helped them to a 3-1 defeat of a sorry Bulgarian side.

France stay top on 17 points, just one ahead of Sweden in second, with Holland three points further behind in third.

Elated Dutch players celebrate one of their goals

Group B

Switzerland’s unblemished record in the qualifiers was hardly under threat when they took on Latvia, winning 3-0 thanks to goals from Haris Seferovic, Blerim Dzemali and AC Milan fullback, Ricardo Rodriguez.

In Budapest, Portugal ran out 0-1 winners, to keep the battle for top spot in the group alive, thanks to an Andre Silva goal sealing an important win over their hosts, Hungary.

In the other group match, the Faroe Islands finally got something to celebrate, as they picked up their first win of the campaign with a 1-0 home win against Andorra.

Switzerland stay atop this group on 24points, with Portugal three points behind in second.

Group H

Greece 1-2 Belgium

Belgium players celebrating their qualification

Roberto Martinez side became not just the first team in Europe to book their ticket to next year’s event, but the sixth overall team to do so.

They defeated Greece 2-1 away, thanks to goals from Jan Vertonghen and Romelu Lukaku.

However, it didn’t always go their way. The Greeks deserved at least a draw in that game, going by their performance especially in the first half.

The first 45 ended goalless, but Greece were the better team, and really were unfortunate not to have gone into the break with an advantage.

In the second half, the game came alive and in the 70th minute Vertonghen rifled on from outside the box to put the Red Devils 1-0 ahead.

Greece responded brilliantly, with Zeca leveling things up moments later. But the drama wasn’t finished.

It was all happening too fast as Lukaku restored Belgium’s lead a minute after Greece equalised, thanks to a towering header off a Thomas Meunier cross.

Within five minutes, three goals were scored, and more could have been scored, especially by the hosts, but Belgium held on for the win, booking their place as group winners.

Elsewhere, the battle for the best runners-up continued, as Bosnia and Herzegovina did their chances a huge favour thanks to an Edin Dzeko brace which helped them to a 4-0 win over Gibraltar.

Cyprus, however, left it late to seal victory over Estonia, thanks to a 92nd winner by Mathias Kait.

We end this wrap up with a trip to Zagreb, where the delayed Group I match between Croatia and Kosovo took place, with the Croatians sealing a 1-0 home win.

The win sees them back to the top on 16 points, with temporary leaders, Ukraine, moving back to second, two points behind.

Full Results on matches after match day 8

Belarus 0-4 Sweden
Holland 3-1 Bulgaria
Faroe Islands 1-0 Andorra
Estonia 0-1 Cyprus
France 0-0 Luxembourg
Hungary 0-1 Portugal
Latvia 0-3 Switzerland
Gibraltar 0-4 Bosnia
Greece 1-2 Belgium

Croatia 1-0 Kosovo*

*Delayed match day 7

Photo Credit: Twitter (@BelgianRedDevils, @Squawka)

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