Thursday, 16 August, 2018

France closing in on World Cup finals spot

I'm no saviour, Mbappe warns ahead of Bulgaria trip France have little room for error
Ellis Copeland | 08 October, 2017, 09:55

Blaise Matuidi's early goal proved enough for France to secure a crucial 1-0 victory away to Bulgaria which put them back at the top of World Cup European Qualifying Group A.

Matuidi struck after three minutes with a fine angled shot and Bulgaria had their best chance denied by Hugo Lloris before half-time.

The 1998 world champions lead Sweden by one point in Group A with two matches to play, but France need little reminding of the pain inflicted upon them by the Bulgarians in one of the national team's darkest hours.

That saw the Swedes temporarily move into top spot but victory means France know that three points at home to Belarus on Tuesday will book their place in Russian Federation.

The Dutch needed a victory in Barysaw to keep alive any hopes of a top-two finish, but despite a third goal in two games from Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Davy Propper, Belarus equalised through Maksim Volodjko.

The pressure was on after Sweden had earlier swept past Luxembourg 8-0 to boost their hopes of making it to Russian Federation, which in turn all but eliminated Holland, who later won 3-1 in Belarus.

Captain Arjen Robben came to his side's rescue by netting a penalty with only six minutes remaining, before Memphis Depay added some gloss in injury-time.

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All that means that the Netherlands are all but certain to miss out on a second consecutive major tournament despite a 3-1 win over Belarus.

Portugal go into that game with Switzerland three points behind their rivals but with a much better goal difference meaning the victor will be guaranteed a place in Russian Federation nest summer.

In the World Cup Qualifying UEFA, the team France and Bulgaria face against each other today.

"We did not have a great second period, and they were more aggressive".

Steven Zuber scored twice in Basel as Switzerland made it nine wins from nine by thrashing Hungary 5-2.

Dario Dumic's header eight minutes from time looked to have given Bosnia a precious point, but minutes later Yannick Ferreira Carrasco netted from a tight angle to secure the win for Belgium.

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