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Portugal, France win European Qualifiers

Olivier Giroud and Cristiano Ronaldo were both on target as France and Portugal won their respective European Qualifiers on Friday.

France edge past Iceland

Olivier Giroud scored the only goal from the penalty spot as world champions France claimed a 1-0 victory in their crunch European Qualifier in Iceland.

The Chelsea striker tucked home in the 66th minute of the Group H clash in Reykjavik after Antoine Griezmann had been kicked by Ari Skulason.

France had the better chances of a tame first half although Griezmann was well off target with a free-kick. Giroud felt France should have had a penalty for handball by Kari Arnason but nothing was given and the striker was booked for his protests.

Iceland threatened when Jon Bodvarsson had a shot deflected at Steve Mandanda and Birkir Bjarnason headed wide from a corner.

The key moment did not come until after the hour when Griezmann charged into the area and was kicked in the thigh by Skulason. Giroud confidently dispatched the spot-kick, sending Hannes Halldorsson the wrong way.

France had opportunities to make victory more comfortable in the latter stages. Blaise Matuidi hit the post with a low shot in the 78th minute after a good run by Kingsley Coman. Wissam Ben Yedder also got a sight of goal after controlling nicely and playing a one-two with Griezmann but Halldorsson saved with his feet.

Injury-hit France stay second in Group H behind Turkey, with both teams level on 18 points, after Senol Gunes’ side beat Albania 1-0, with Cenk Tosun scoring in the 90th minute. Turkey stay top by virtue of their 2-0 win against France in June, with the pair meeting again in the European Qualifiers on Monday.

Ronaldo scores in Portugal win

Nations League champions Portugal eased to a 3-0 win against Luxembourg in Lisbon, and missed a string of chances to win by a bigger margin.

Top scorer Ronaldo had been hoping to get two strikes to reach the milestone of 700 goals at club and international level, but his one goal – the second for Portugal on the night – demonstrated his class when a defensive blunder allowed the Juventus forward to race clear and beat goalkeeper Anthony Moris with a delightful lob from the edge of the penalty area.

Moris produced a barrage of fine saves to keep the score respectable after Bernardo Silva pounced on a loose ball and steered it past two defenders on the line to fire the home side ahead in the 16th minute.

Poor finishing coupled with Moris’s heroics kept Portugal at bay before Ronaldo netted his 94th international goal to reach the 699 mark at senior level and Goncalo Guedes sealed the win with an 89th-minute effort.

Ukraine also eased to a victory against Lithuania in Group B, with Ruslan Malinovskiy netted both goals in a 2-0 win. It keeps them top of the group, five points ahead of Portugal who have a game in hand, and Ukraine will qualify for Euro 2020 if they avoid defeat against Portugal on Monday.

Andorra secure famous victory

Andorra secured their first win in 56 qualifying matches as they beat 10-man Moldova 1-0 in Group H.

Heading into the game, the minnows had yet to score or register a point in the current European qualifying campaign but were handed an advantage as Radu Ginsari was shown a second yellow card and sent off in the 55th minute.

Eight minutes later, and Andorra made the breakthrough. It was a wonderful header from Marc Valez as he steered home a corner to ultimately hand the hosts their first win in 18 months.

Czech Republic end England’s winning run

A limp England suffered their first qualifying defeat in over 10 years as Czech Republic came from behind to win 2-1 in Prague in European Qualifying Group A.

Level at 1-1 after a sloppy performance, England were punished by 30-year-old Czech debutant and substitute Zdenek Ondrasek, who converted low and unmarked from 10 yards to stun Gareth Southgate’s side (85).

England had taken an early lead through Harry Kane’s penalty after Raheem Sterling was tripped (5), but the Czechs reacted immediately through Jakub Brabec, turning up at the back post after suspect England defending from a corner (9).

Elsewhere in Group A, Montenegro and Bulgaria played out a goalless draw.

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