The UEFA World Cup Qualifying group-stage concluded on Tuesday with nine matches taking place all across Europe. France and Portugal clinched their places in next year’s World Cup after home victories. The highlighted showdown on Tuesday came from Group B, as Portugal faced Switzerland in a winner take all match.
Portugal concluded the group as winners, defeating Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon. It was the Swiss’ first loss in qualifying, and an unfortunate bounce saw them down before halftime. An own goal off of Johan Djourou gave Portugal a 1-0 lead in the 41st-minute. Andre Silva doubled the lead before the hour mark, finishing off Bernardo Silva’s assist in the 57th-minute. Switzerland was held to one shot on goal, while Portugal had four. The win means Portugal automatically qualifiers for Russia 2018, while Switzerland end up in the playoffs.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, France hosted Belarus looking to keep hold of the top spot in Group A. Sweden traveled to Holland looking to out the French from an automatic qualification spot. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece faced fixtures in Group H, each looking to snatch the playoff place.
Here’s a complete rundown of all of Sunday’s World Cup Qualifiers:
The Netherlands may not be involved with next year’s World Cup, but they did spoil Sweden’s chances of making it automatically. The hosts defeated the Swedes 2-0 in Amsterdam, thanks to a brace from Arjen Robben. The Bayern winger opened the scoring in the 16th-minute from a penalty kick. Victor Lindelof was the guilty party who was whistled for hand ball. Robben extended the lead prior to halftime from a long-range strike with his left foot. The Netherlands had eight shots on goal, compared to Sweden’s two.
France automatically qualified for Russia 2018 thanks to the Netherlands victory over Sweden. The French also ended qualifying on a good note, defeating Belarus 2-1 in Paris. Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring in the 27th-minute from a left-footed finish. It was the Atletico striker’s fourth goal in qualifying. Olivier Giroud added to the lead in the 34th-minute from a left-footed finish of his own. Anton Saroka pulled one back for Belarus in the 44th-minute, but that was the closest the visitors got to a comeback.
Netherlands 2 – Sweden 0
France 2 – Belarus 1
Luxembourg 1 – Bulgaria 1
Latvia concluded World Cup Qualifying in good fashion, defeating Andorra 4-0 in Riga. Valerjis Sabala netted a brace for the hosts who snapped an eight-match winless run in the process. Davis Ikaunieks headed home the opener for Latvia in the 11th-minute from a cross. Sabala extended the lead to 2-0 in the 19th-minute from a smooth right-footed finish. Sabala netted his second of the evening from a right-footed finish in the 59th-minute. Igors Tarasovs’ close-range finish in the 63rd-minute made it 4-0 in front of the home crowd.
Portugal 2 – Switzerland 0
Hungary 1 – Faroe Islands 0
Latvia 4 – Andorra 0
Greece leapfrogged Bosnia into a playoff place, defeating Gibraltar 3-0 in Athens. The hosts knew three points would put them into the playoff places which kick off in November. Kostas Mitroglou netted a brace for the hosts, who concluded qualifying with back-to-back important wins. Vasilis Torosidis opened the scoring in the 32nd-minute from a header. Mitroglou’s first goal came in the 61st-minute as he finished off Petros Mantalos’s assist. The Marseille striker added to the lead just two minutes later from close-range. Giannis Gianniotas capped the final score from a header in the 78th-minute. Gibraltar was held to one shot on goal in the lopsided defeat.
Belgium 4 – Cyprus 0
Estonia 1 – Bosnia-Herzegovina 2
Greece 4 – Gibraltar 0
The top eight of the nine second-place finishers will be involved in the playoffs. The four winners of those playoff draws will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The draw is set to take place on October 17th in Zurich with the two-legged playoffs estimated to take place between Nov. 9-14.
Those eight playoff teams will be:
1.) Switzerland – 27 points – +16 goal difference.
2.) Italy – 23 points – +13 goal difference.
3.) Denmark – 20 points – +12 goal difference.
4.) Croatia – 20 points – +11 goal difference.
5.) Sweden – 19 points – +17 goal difference.
6.) Greece – 19 points – +11 goal difference.
7.) Northern Ireland – 19 points – +11 goal difference.
8.) Republic of Ireland – 19 points – +6 goal difference.