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Euro qualifiers PIX: England, Portugal, France win big

Last updated on: September 08, 2019 12:31 IST

A round-up of Saturday's Euro 2020 qualifying matches.

Harry Kane

IMAGE: Harry Kane celebrates scoring England's fourth goal to complete his hat-trick against Bulgaria in the Euro 2020 Group A qualifier at Wembley. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

England's serene progress towards Euro 2020 continued as skipper Harry Kane grabbed a hat-trick in a 4-0 demolition of Bulgaria in Group A at Wembley on Saturday.

Kane opened the scoring after 24 minutes and struck home two penalties after the break as well as providing the assist for Raheem Sterling to get on the scoresheet.

 

Gareth Southgate's side have now scored 14 goals in their opening three Group A games and lead the table with nine points from Kosovo (8) who beat the Czech Republic 2-1 earlier on.

England host Kosovo for the first time on Tuesday when another victory will leave them looking virtually assured of reaching next year's tournament that culminates on home soil.

It was not a perfect display by England with Bulgaria having three good chances, one when the score was 0-0, but England proved far too strong as they left the visitors languishing at the bottom of the group with two points from five games.

Kane's second hat-trick for England, following the one he scored against Panama at last year's World Cup finals, took his tally to 25 goals in 40 appearances -- eight of which have arrived from the penalty spot.

Portugal rekindle Euro hopes with win in Serbia

William Carvalho celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo and teammates after scoring Portugal's first goal in the Euro 2020 Group B Qualifier against Serbia in Belgrade.

IMAGE: William Carvalho celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo and teammates after scoring Portugal's first goal in the Euro 2020 Group B qualifier against Serbia in Belgrade. Photograph: Marko Djurica/Reuters

European champions Portugal got their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign back on track with goals from William Carvalho, Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva helping them to a pulsating 4-2 Group B victory in Serbia on Saturday.

The victory lifted the Portuguese to second place in the group on five points from three games, eight behind runaway leaders Ukraine who have 13 from five matches after their 3-0 win in Lithuania earlier on Saturday.

Third-placed Luxembourg and Serbia in fourth both have four points from as many games while Lithuania are bottom with one point from four matches.

Coach Fernando Santos, who steered Portugal to the Euro 2016 title in France and this year's triumph in the inaugural Nations League, was pleased with his team's performance.

"We showed a lot of creativity and attacking intent in a solid performance required to beat a very good Serbia side," Santos told reporters.

"Getting the opening goal just before halftime was vital and in the second half we controlled the game. We stifled their excellent midfield and deserved the win.

"This win should boost our confidence ahead of Tuesday's visit to Lithuania and nothing less than a win will do because it's a complicated group."

His counterpart Ljubisa Tumbakovic, who replaced Mladen Krstajic on July 1 three weeks after he was sacked by Montenegro, conceded he had endured a sour debut as Serbia coach.

"We lost to a majestic team full of world-class players," said the 67-year old from Belgrade.

"We lacked the final pass in the first half and it didn't help that we fell behind just before the break. As ever in Serbian football, we were vulnerable defensively and that undermines every other department."

Portugal dominated the opening half and Carvalho fired them ahead in the 42nd minute when he poked the ball into an empty net from three metres after Serbia keeper Marko Dmitrovic spilled a Bruno Fernandes cross from the right.

Cristiano Ronaldo, looking subdued in the opening half and given a hostile reception at Red Star stadium as Serbian fans jeered him every time he touched the ball, twice came close early in the second half.

He fired inches wide from the edge of the penalty area after cutting in from the left and then curled a free kick narrowly off target before Guedes doubled Portugal's lead with a fine individual effort.

The forward capped a flowing move as he sidestepped a defender and rifled in an unstoppable shot past Dmitrovic into the far corner from 12 metres to silence the raucous home crowd.

Centre back Nikola Milenkovic pulled one back for Serbia in the 68th minute, heading a Dusan Tadic corner past keeper Rui Patricio, who was two minutes later forced to tip a fierce Adem Ljajic shot from 20 metres over the bar.

Taunted by chants of "Messi" from Serbia's die-hard fans, Ronaldo demonstrated his class in the 80th minute when he took a Bernardo Silva pass in his stride and coolly dinked the ball over the advancing Dmitrovic.

Serbia refused to roll over as Aleksandar Mitrovic drove a shot from inside the penalty area into the roof of the net after a defensive blunder in the 85th minute but Silva sealed the contest with a clinical finish barely 60 seconds later.

France beat Albania to stay top of Group H

 Kingsley Coman celebrates scoring France's third goal with Olivier Giroud.

IMAGE: Kingsley Coman celebrates scoring France's third goal with Olivier Giroud. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

France stayed in command of their Euro 2020 qualifying group as Kingsley Coman’s double and goals from Olivier Giroud and debutant Jonathan Ikone earned them a 4-1 home win against Albania on Saturday.

The world champions, who conceded a late penalty converted by Sokol Cikalleshi, have 12 points from five games in Group H and lead second-placed Turkey on goal difference after they beat Andorra 1-0 with a last-gasp Ozan Tufan goal.

Iceland are third, also on 12 points, after claiming a routine 3-0 victory against Moldova.

France next face Andorra at the Stade de France on Tuesday when Albania take on Iceland and Turkey travel to Moldova. 

“It was a good game, personally and collectively, I’m happy for the team,” said Coman.

“We worked hard, we were focused from start to finish and it’s a logical result.”

Kickoff was delayed by 10 minutes after the Andorran anthem was mistakenly played instead of the Albanian one at the Stade de France but Les Bleus were then quickly into the action.

Coman, one of four Bayern Munich players starting in the absence of the injured Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, collected a fine through ball from Raphael Varane and slotted home from close range after eight minutes. 

Giroud doubled the tally in the 27th, wrongfooting keeper Thomas Strakosha from Lucas Hernandez’s pinpoint cross.

Antoine Griezmann then smashed a penalty against the crossbar but France were never threatened in a one-sided encounter.

Coman was at it again after the break, netting his second with a low shot on the turn from Griezmann’s pass in the 68th.

He was replaced by Ikone, who had an immediate impact.

The Lille striker, who has yet to score for his club this season, burst into the area and rounded off the move with a cool finish at the second opportunity.

Albania grabbed a consolation goal in the last minute when Cikalleshi converted a penalty after he was brought down by Hugo Lloris.

Turkey, who seemed to be heading for a disappointing draw against Andorra, turned it around when Tufan headed home one minute from fulltime, denying the visitors their first-ever European Championship qualifying point.

It was Andorra’s 55th defeat in as many Euro qualifying games.

Turkey beat France 2-0 in June and the return encounter at the Stade de France on Oct. 14 could prove to be a group decider.

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