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PIX: Ronaldo nets 700th career goal; France held by Turkey

Last updated on: October 15, 2019 11:27 IST

Cristiano Ronaldo

IMAGE: Cristiano Ronaldo scores from the penalty spot against Ukraine to complete 700 goals in his career. Photograph: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Ukraine advanced to the Euro 2020 finals after an impressive first half helped them to a 2-1 home win over Portugal, whose talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 700th career goal in a Group B qualifier on Monday.

 

The result left Ukraine top of the section on 19 points from seven games, eight more than second-placed European champions Portugal who have a game in hand.

Third-paced Serbia are on 10 points from six games after an Aleksandar Mitrovic brace gave them a 2-1 win at Lithuania.

Luxembourg have four points from six games and the Lithuanians prop the group with one point from seven matches.

Ukraine needed to avoid defeat in order to qualify for their third successive European championship and made a perfect start when Roman Yaremchuk fired them into a sixth-minute lead.

The striker hammered the ball into an empty net from three metres after Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio could only parry Serhiy Kryvtsov’s close-range header.

Portugal replied with a flurry of raids down either flank but were stunned again in then 27th minute, when livewire Andriy Yarmolenko superbly swept home an inch-perfect Vitaliy Mykolenko cross from the left.

IMAGE: Ukraine's players celebrate after Andriy Yarmolenko scored their second goal. Photograph: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

The visitors missed several chances towards the end of the first half before Yarmolenko came close again, firing wide from close range after another swift break by Ukraine.

Ronaldo missed several chances in the second half before a Taras Stepanenko handball in the area, which saw the midfielder sent off as it resulted in a second yellow card, earned Portugal a penalty in the 72nd minute.

Ronaldo blasted the spot kick into the top corner but the home side held out in the closing stages as Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov made several good saves, while Danilo Pereira hit the crossbar for Portugal in stoppage time.

With the Portuguese now skating on thin ice, Serbia hauled themselves back into contention for a top-two finish after Aleksandar Mitrovic propelled the Balkan nation to a 2-1 win at Lithuania.

The Fulham striker gave the visitors a 49th-minute lead after good work by Adem Ljajic and the duo doubled Serbia’s advantage four minutes later with a move that was almost a bluepirnt copy of the opening goal.

Donatas Kazlauskas pulled one back for Lithuania with a fine shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 79th minute and the home side missed a gilt-edged chance in stoppage time to earn a draw.

France denied early Euro qualification with Turkey draw

IMAGE: Olivier Giroud scores the goal for France. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

France must wait to claim a place at Euro 2020 after the world champions were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Turkey in a high-octane qualifying game on Monday.

Turkey’s Kaan Ayhan equalised eight minutes from time after France substitute Olivier Giroud opened the scoring in the 76th as the visitors stayed top of Group H with 19 points from eight games, ahead of Les Bleus due to a 2-0 win in Konya last June.

Iceland are third on 15 points after goals by Arnor Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson earned a 2-0 home victory over Andorra, with Albania fourth on 12 points following a 4-0 away win against Moldova.

French police were on high alert after president Emmanuel Macron said Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish forces in Syria could lead to an “unsustainable humanitarian situation” and threatened to “help the Islamic State group re-emerge in the region”.

With up to 40,000 Turkey fans expected at the stadium, some 1,000 police officers were on duty in and around the Stade de France to prevent potential crowd trouble, but the atmosphere remained peaceful throughout the evening.

“We could have avoided that goal,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “We did everything we needed to win that game, we had the chances, they didn’t, but it is what it is.

“It’s a good point. We’ll have to finish the job in November,” he added, saying Turkey, who have picked up four points against France, deserved to top the group.

“We are the two best teams in the group. Qualifiers are always complicated, it’s a long road. We should have been more efficient. They defended a lot and they deserve to be where they are.”

France take on Moldova and Turkey host Iceland in the next round of matches in November.

The world champions were still without injured goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, striker Kylian Mbappe and midfielder Paul Pogba, and Wissam Ben Yedder started up front in place of Giroud, who paid for his lack of playing time with Chelsea.

France were the most dangerous side as Turkey struggled to cope with the pace of Kingsley Coman but the visiting defence, which had conceded only two goals in qualifying so far, held firm.

France midfielder Moussa Sissoko’s low shot was blocked by keeper Mert Gunok and Antoine Griezmann’s curled shot went just wide as Les Bleus piled on the pressure.

Turkey, however, created a chance to opening the scoring on the hour only for Burak Yilmaz to sky his attempt over the bar at the end of a quick counter attack.

With Ben Yedder struggling to find space, Deschamps replaced him with Giroud in the 72nd minute and it the substitute took four minutes to make an impact, heading home Griezmann’s corner kick.

The hosts’ joy, however, was short-lived as Turkey levelled six minutes later when Ayhan nodded in a free kick.

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