Portugal, France score their first wins in World Cup qualifying

Euro 2016 finalists Portugal and France scored their first wins in qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup on Friday, at the expense of Bulgaria and Andorra.

Portugal - who started out with a shock 2-0 defeat in Switzerland in September - trounced minnows Andorra 6-0, with four goals from the rampant Cristiano Ronaldo plus strikes from Joao Cancelo and Andre Silva. Andorra had Marc Rebes and Jordi Rubio sent off.

"It was great to return to the side like this, with so many goals. I have missed playing for my country recently," Ronaldo said.

Ronaldo missed the defeat in Switzerland with a left knee injury that he picked up in Portugal's surprise 1-0 defeat of France in the Euros final in July.

The easy defeat of Andorra left Portugal on three points in Group B, which is topped by an in-form Swiss side that has maximum six points.

Switzerland battled out a late 3-2 win in Hungary, with Valentin Stocker hitting the winner in stoppage time, after Adam Szalai had levelled twice for luckless Hungary.

The group's other game was a surprising 2-0 win for the Faroe Islands in Latvia.

Meanwhile in France, the hosts came from behind to thump Bulgaria 4-1 in Group A, with a brace from Kevin Gameiro plus goals from Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann.

"I am very pleased to be called up for the team, and to have helped with this win," said Gameiro, who was controversially not included in France's Euro 2016 squad.

Mihail Aleksandrov gave Bulgaria a shock early lead but France were 3-1 up and cruising by half-time thanks to strikes from Gameiro, Payet and Griezmann.

France, the Netherlands and Sweden all have four points in Group A.

The Dutch - who surprisingly failed to qualify for Euro 2016 - clobbered Belarus 4-1, with youngster Quincy Promes leading the way with an early brace.

"This was a good performance from the team," said Dutch coach Danny Blind, who almost lost his job after failing to reach the Euros.

"We are bringing in several promising young players and they are adapting quickly to our style of play, which is very satisfying."

Meanwhile, Sweden got their first win, 1-0 in Luxembourg on a strike from Mikael Lustig.

Also Friday, Belgium went top of Group H with a 4-0 destruction of Bosnia. Greece kept up with Belgium on six points by downing Cyprus 2-0, and Estonia hammered minnows Gibraltar 4-0.

Last update: Sat, 08/10/2016 - 00:02

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