The must-watch fixture from Sunday’s UEFA World Cup Qualifying action came from Athens as Greece faced off with Belgium. Roberto Martinez’s side used a 74th-minute winner from Romelu Lukaku to earn all three points against the hosts, becoming the first European side to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Following a scoreless first-half, the Belgians took the 1-0 lead as Jan Vertonghen’s left-footed finish found the back of the net after 70 minutes. Greece answered back quickly just three minutes later, as Zeca finished off Georgios Tzavellas’s assist to the bottom left corner. Lukaku headed home the winner, for his ninth goal of qualifying. The visitors would hang on to remain unbeaten in qualifying. Greece remained in third, a point behind second-place Bosnia.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Switzerland remained perfect in Group B, while Portugal snatched a win in Hungary. Sweden rolled past Belarus away from home, while the Netherlands earned an important home win over Bulgaria.
Here’s a closer look at all of Sunday’s World Cup Qualifiers:
Sweden bounced back nicely from a defeat in Bulgaria three days ago, by rolling past Belarus 4-0. An 84th-minute penalty kick goal from Andreas Granqvist capped the perfect afternoon for the Swedes, who still are holding onto second place. Emil Forsberg opened the scoring after 18 minutes, finding the back of the net from a right-footed shot. Christoffer Nyman’s right-footed finish doubled the Swedes lead six minutes later. Marcus Berg added a third for Jan Olaf Andersson’s side before the halftime break. Forsberg drew the late penalty inside of the box, which allowed Granqvist to rifle home the visitors’ fourth. Belarus dropped their second consecutive qualifier.
The Netherlands shook off Thursday’s drubbing to France, by defeating Bulgaria 3-1 in Amsterdam. Davy Propper scored a brace for the Dutch, while Arjen Robben added a goal as well. Propper’s seventh-minute opener gave the Oranje a 1-0 lead as the midfielder scored from close range. Robben extended the lead to 2-0, finishing Daley Blind’s assist also from close range. Bulgaria pulled one back two minutes later as Georgi Kostadinov headed home from a set piece. Propper put the game on ice as he headed home Quincy Promes’ assist for the final goal of the afternoon. The Netherlands jump back into third, pushing Bulgaria into fourth.
Belaurs 0 – Sweden 4
Netherlands 3 – Bulgaria 1
France 0 – Luxembourg 0
1. France | 17 points | 5-1-2| 15 goals scored | 5 goals allowed
2. Sweden | 16 points | 5-2-1 | 18 goals scored | 7 goals allowed
3. Netherlands | 13 points | 4-3-1| 16 goals scored | 11 goals allowed
4. Bulgaria | 12 points | 4-4-0 | 13 goals scored |17 goals allowed
5. Luxembourg | 5 points | 1-5-2 | 7 goals scored | 17 goals allowed
6. Belarus | 5 points | 1-5-2 | 4 goal scored | 16 goals allowed
Group B leaders Switzerland remained perfect in qualifying, defeating Latvia 3-0 away from home. A ninth-minute own goal from Andris Vanins gave the visitors a 1-0 advantage early. Blerim Dzemaili’s 34th-minute penalty soared of the net, keeping the score at 1-0. However, the Montreal Impact midfielder made up for his miss, slotting home after 54 minutes from a left-footed effort. Ricardo Rodriguez’s 58th-minute penalty kick added an insurance goal for the Swiss who ran out 3-0 winners. Latvia remain in last place in Group B.
Portugal remained three points off of their rivals in Group B, defeating Hungary 1-0. Andre Silva played the hero for Portugal, scoring after 48 minutes. The AC Milan man finished off Cristiano Ronaldo’s assist from close range. Hungary only mustered up one shot on goal, losing for the second straight time against the defending European Champions. Hungary stay in third, while Portugal are in second.
Faroe Islands 1 – Andorra 0
Latvia 0 – Switzerland 3
Hungary 0 – Portugal 1
1. Switzerland | 24 points | 8-0-0| 18 goals scored | 3 goals allowed
2. Portugal | 21 points | 7-1-0 | 28 goals scored | 4 goals allowed
3. Hungary | 10 points | 3-4-1| 11 goals scored | 9 goals allowed
4. Faroe Islands| 8 points | 2-4-2 | 4 goals scored |15 goals allowed
5. Andorra | 4 points | 1-6-1 | 2 goals scored | 17 goals allowed
6. Latvia | 3 points | 1-7-0 | 3 goals scored | 18 goals allowed
In Group H’s early fixture, Estonia used a second-half stoppage time winner to defeat Cyprus 1-0. A 92nd-minute strike from Mattias Kait was all the hosts needed to earn their first three points since Matchday #2. Kait’s left-footed blast from outside of the box found the bottom right corner, for his third goal of qualifying. Cyprus were held to one shot on goal, losing for the first time since Oct. 2016.
Estonia 1 – Cyprus 0
Greece 1 – Belgium 2
Gibraltar 0 – Bosnia-Herzegovina 4
1. Belgium | 22 points | 7-0-1| 35 goals scored | 3 goals allowed
2. Bosnia-Herzegovina | 14 points | 4-2-2 | 19 goals scored | 8 goals allowed
3. Greece | 13 points | 3-1-4| 11 goals scored | 5 goals allowed
4. Cyprus | 10 points | 3-4-1 | 8 goals scored |12 goals allowed
5. Estonia | 8 points | 2-4-2 | 6 goals scored | 17 goals allowed
6. Gibraltar | 1 point | 0-8-0| 3 goal scored | 37 goals allowed
After seeing their match postponed on Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch, Croatia used a second-half winner from Domagoj Vida to edge Kosovo 1-0. The Dinamo Kiev defender rose the highest after 74 minutes, and headed Luka Modric’s cross into the bottom right corner. The hosts only had two shots on goal, while Kosovo failed to record any. Croatia jump back into the top spot in Group I, while Kosovo remain bottom on one point.
Croatia 1 – Kosovo 0
1. Croatia| 16 points | 5-1-1| 12 goals scored | 2 goals allowed
2. Ukraine | 14 points | 4-1-2 | 11 goals scored | 5 goals allowed
3. Iceland | 11 points | 4-2-1| 9 goals scored | 7 goals allowed
4. Turkey| 11 points | 3-2-2 | 11 goals scored |8 goals allowed
5. Finland | 5 points | 1-5-1 | 5 goals scored | 10 goals allowed
6. Kosovo | 1 point | 0-6-1 | 3 goals scored | 19 goals allowed