European champions, Portugal have booked a place in next year’s World Cup after they defeated Switzerland 2-0. A Johan Djourou own goal, and another goal from Andre Silva earned Portugal a crucial home win over the Swiss to emerge as Group B winners.
The Swiss went into the game as leaders, needing just a point to guarantee them a place in Russia as group winners, but found themselves 1-0 down at break thanks to Djourou’s own goal. After the restart, it went from bad to worse as they were 2-0 down, after Portugal doubled their advantage courtesy of Silva, who scored his ninth of the series.
Portugal held on for the win, booking their ticket to Russia as group winners, leaving Switzerland, who had been leaders for a while, to make do with a place in the playoffs as runners-up.
Elsewhere, 1998 champions, France, also confirmed their place in next summer’s tournament following a 2-1 victory over Belarus at the Stade de France.
All the goals in the match were scored in an exciting first half, with Les Bleus having led 2-0 thanks to goals from Antoine Griezmann and Arsenal striker, Olivier Giroud. Anton Savoka pulled one back for the visitors, but it was nothing more than a consolation, as France held on for the win that guaranteed them a place in Russia as group winners.
Also in this group, Sweden secured a place in the playoff after coming second behind France despite losing 2-0 to the Netherlands, who needed to score seven goals to keep their world cup hopes alive, but came short, and are now eliminated.
Arjen Robben scored both goals, but they were not just enough for the Dutch, whose revival under Dick Advocaat came rather too late in the qualifying series.
In Group H, already qualified Belgium smashed Cyprus 4-0, with Eden Hazard scoring a brace, including a second half penalty. Eden’s younger brother, Thorgan, and Manchester United striker, Romelu Lukaku, added two more goals as the Red Devils ended the world cup qualifying series in style.
By putting four goals past sorry Cyprus, Belgium have now scored 44goals, which equaled the goal scoring record in the European qualifying zone. While the Belgians had already qualified going into the last game, Group H’s playoffs spot was still up for grabs.
Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina battled for second spot, both sides won their games, but it was the Greek side who sealed second spot and a place in the playoffs. Greece demolished Gibraltar 4-0, while Bosnia secured a 2-1 win over Estonia.
France 2-1 Belarus
Luxembourg 1-1 Bulgaria
Netherlands 2-0 Sweden
Hungary 1-0 Faroe Islands
Latvia 4-0 Andorra
Portugal 2-0 Switzerland
Belgium 4-0 Cyprus
Estonia 1-2 Bosnia-Herze.
Greece 4-0 Gibraltar
Photo credit: @EuroQualifiers