Ruth­less Ron­aldo hits four, France and Dutch run riot

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo scored twice in the open­ing four min­utes on the way to a four-goal haul as Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal smashed An­dorra 6-0 in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing on Fri­day, while France re­cov­ered from a goal down to thrash Bul­garia.

The Real Madrid su­per­star was mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance for Por­tu­gal since he was stretchered off in­jured and in tears from the fi­nal of Euro 2016 and he wasted no time in mak­ing up for his three-month ab­sence from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball.

The 31-year-old took just 73 sec­onds to make his mark. He was wres­tled to the floor at a cor­ner but then jumped up to vol­ley in left footed from around the penalty spot after the An­dorra goal­keeper could only parry a Por­tu­gal header.

Ron­aldo, who has strug­gled to get back to his bril­liant best for Real since re­turn­ing from his knee trou­ble, was at it again two min­utes later when he was left to­tally un­marked on the six­yard box to rise and head in. It was only a mat­ter of how many for the home side after that, as Por­tu­gal be­lat­edly got three points on the board in Group B, after los­ing in Switzer­land in the open­ing group matches.

Ron­aldo made it the per­fect hat-trick just 90 sec­onds after the break, grab­bing his thirdPor­tu­gal’s fourth-with a sweet right-footed vol­ley. An­dorra’s night­mare evening got that bit worse just after the hour when they went down to 10 men, Jordi Ru­bio re­ceiv­ing a sec­ond yel­low card for clat­ter­ing late and hard into Ron­aldo, who pun­ished the away side soon after with an­other fine half-vol­ley for 5-0.

Cyn­i­cal and in­creas­ingly des­per­ate An­dorra saw red again when Marc Rebes was the next to get sent off, again for cut­ting down the man of the mo­ment Ron­aldo.

An­dre Silva sealed the pun­ish­ment four min­utes from time. “We know that Switzer­land and the Faroes won tonight and it will be nec­es­sary for us to beat them dur­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion,” said Ron­aldo who now has 65 in­ter­na­tional goals.

“There are eight games left and we want to win them all to reach the World Cup fi­nals.”


France, ag­o­nis­ingly beaten by Por­tu­gal in Paris in the Euro fi­nal in July, re­turned to the scene of that heart­break and got off to the worst pos­si­ble start when they con­ceded after just six min­utes at the Stade de France. Mi­hail Alek­san­drov stroked home from the penalty spot to give the Bul­gar­i­ans a shock lead in a very com­pet­i­tive-look­ing Group A. But the French stormed back with two goals from Kevin Gameiro-mak­ing his first in­ter­na­tional start in al­most five years-in a con­vinc­ing 4-1 win. “It was a per­fect evening. We re­acted well and then ran away with it,” Gameiro, back in favour at the age of 29, told TF1. “I felt enor­mously proud and es­pe­cially full of de­sire. Hard work pays off.” The Nether­lands, who failed to make it to the Eu­ros, top the group after they de­feated Be­larus 4-1 in Rot­ter­dam. Quincy Promes grabbed a first-half brace for the Dutch.

France travel to Am­s­ter­dam to­mor­row for a mouth­wa­ter­ing clash with the Nether­lands.

Un­der-achiev­ing Bel­gium also en­joyed a fine home win, Eden Haz­ard scor­ing a beauty in the first pe­riod as they de­feated Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina 4-0 to go top of Group H.

Euro­pean World Cup qual­i­fy­ing con­tin­ues, when Eng­land host min­nows Malta at Wem­b­ley for in­terim man­ager Gareth South­gate’s first game in charge after the de­par­ture in dis­grace of Sam Al­lardyce. — AFP Abu Dhabi SPORTS 3 HD

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