Cristiano Ronaldo nets four goals as Portugal cruise; France, Belgium win

AVEIRO, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 07: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates after scoring the second a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group B match between Portugal and Andorra at the Aveiro Municipal stadium on October 07, 2016 in Aveiro, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo scored four times, including two inside the opening four minutes as Portugal crushed Andorra 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Friday.

The Real Madrid star thought he had been hauled down during a corner about 70 seconds into the match, but when no whistle came he got up just in time to fire a rebound into the corner of the net.

And two minutes later Ronaldo was on target again with a simple header from a Ricardo Quaresma cross.

Portugal had plenty of more opportunities to score in the first half — Andre Silva hit the bar with a header and keeper Josep Gomes denied Jose Fonte from close range — before Joao Cancelo made it 3-0 with a shot from the tightest of angles.

Ronaldo began the second half just as he did the first, completing his hat trick two minutes after the restart with a powerful volley from the centre of the box.

After Andorra’s Jordi Rubio then picked up two yellow cards in a 10-minute span, Ronaldo found his fourth goal, firing in a half-volley from six yards out.

Andorra’s Marc Rebes was then sent off for a tackle on Ronaldo, and Andre Silva completed the rout against the nine men with a final goal in the 86th minute.

Kevin Gameiro scored twice as five-star France defeated Bulgaria 4-1 in Group A action at the Stade de France.

Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann also got on the scoresheet as France hit back after Mihail Alexandrov’s early penalty.

Bacary Sagna atoned for conceding the penalty by curling in a superb cross for Gameiro to score with a firm glancing header. Another quickly followed when what seemed like a cross from the tricky Payet was not touched by the head of the diving Griezmann and bounced straight into the net.

Sagna left with an injury after 27 minutes, but France were still able to find a third before the break when Gameiro shot into the bottom corner.

Gameiro then added a second in the second half with a simple finish following a pass from Griezmann.

Quincy Promes scored his first two international goals as Netherlands overpowered Belarus 4-1 in Rotterdam.

The hosts had already spurned a handful of chances when Promes gave them the lead with a well-taken strike after 15 minutes, and he doubled the lead with a volley after 31 minutes.

Sergei Kornilenko pulled a goal back for Belarus, but Davy Klaassen soon pounced to extend the Dutch lead on 56 minutes after a Vincent Janssen strike came back off the post.

And Janssen wrapped up the points nine minutes later — his shot from outside the box sensationally finding the top right corner of Belarus goalkeeper Andrey Gorbunov’s net.

Mikael Lustig’s 58th-minute strike sent Sweden past Luxembourg 1-0 in the final Group A match on the night, the Celtic defender firing home from the center of the box after a corner.

The win placed the Swedes on four points in the group, level at the top with France and Netherlands after two rounds of matches.

In Group H, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku scored as Belgium earned a second-straight win by beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0.

The hosts were gifted the lead on 26 minutes thanks to an own goal from Emir Spahic, who unwisely stuck out a foot to put a deflected cross into his own net.

But three minutes later Hazard delivered a worthy second goal, running onto a Dries Mertens through ball and past a helpless Asmir Begovic, his teammate from Chelsea.

Toby Alderweireld added Belgium’s third in the second half with a back-heeled flick following a corner, and Lukaku made up for a horrible miss earlier in the game with a fine strike to cap the scoring.

Greece kept pace with Belgium atop Group H with a 2-0 home win over Cyprus.

Kostas Mitroglou opened the scoring on 12 minutes, lashing home a pass from Konstantinos Fortounis.

It got worse for Cyprus before the break when goalkeeper Konstantinos Panagiotoudis attempted to roll the ball out to a teammate, only for Petros Mantalos to intercept it and double Greece’s lead.

Estonia scored all their goals of a 4-0 win in the second half to crush Gibraltar‘s hopes of a first-ever point in World Cup qualifying.

After a quiet first half, Mattias Kaeit broke the deadlock two minutes after the break, and after Konstantin Vassiljev added a second five minutes later, Kaeit netted his second of the night and Sergei Mosnikov wrapped up the scoring late on.

Also in Portugal’s Group B, Switzerland‘s Valentin Stocker scored in the 89th minute to steal a 3-2 win at Hungary.

After a goalless first half, Haris Seferovic found the breakthough for the Swiss, but Adam Szalai tapped in a rebound off the post to make it 1-1.

Ricardo Rodriguez restored Switzerland’s lead on 67 minutes, but Szalai answered again with a header from close-range to secure a share of the points.

But with one minute to play Stocker poked the ball home following a long throw-in and two flicked-on headed passes for the winner.

The Faroe Islands are surprisingly in second place in Group B after managing a 2-0 win at Latvia.

Sonni Nattestad put the Faroes ahead on 19 minutes before Joan Simun Edmundsson doubled the lead in the 70th.

 

Source: ESPNFC