Switzer­land and Bel­gium keep per­fect start

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Switzer­land kept its 100 per­cent record in a World Cup qual­i­fy­ing group yes­ter­day, though la­bored in beat­ing the Faeroe Is­lands 2-0.

Goals in each half from re­called for­ward Eren Derdiyok and cap­tain Stephan Licht­steiner were enough on a rain-swept even­ing.

Switzer­land has seemed to ease off since open­ing its pro­gram with im­pres­sive wins against its two clos­est ri­vals.

Still, the Swiss were sel­dom threat­ened and also struck the frame of the goal in each half against vis­i­tors who lost 6-0 at home to Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Por­tu­gal last month.

Derdiyok showed high-class tech­nique to open the scor­ing in the 27th minute, tak­ing a long lofted ball from Valon Behrami with a con­trol­ling first touch. He then struck a low left-foot shot past goal­keeper Gun­nar Nielsen.

It was the 11th goal of Derdiyok's 56-match in­ter­na­tional ca­reer which has only rarely ful­filled the 28-year-old for­ward's early prom­ise.

Ad­mir Mehmedi's shot struck a post in the 78th five min­utes be­fore Licht­steiner sealed the three points. The vet­eran right-back ad­vanced deep into the penalty area to meet left-back Ri­cardo Ro­driguez's cross with a bounc­ing header.

Hun­gary cap­tain Balazs Dzudzsak cre­ated first-half goals for 37-year-old Zoltan Gera and Adam Lang in Bu­dapest against An­dorra. Adam Gyursco and Adam Sza­lai added late goals.

Hun­gary has seven points from four matches, and next trav­els to play Por­tu­gal in March. Then, Switzer­land will be fa­vored to beat Latvia at home.

In the other match from this group Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal de­feated Latvia 4-1 with a brace from Cris­tiano Ron­aldo.

Ar­jen Robben marked his re­turn to in­ter­na­tional duty af­ter a year side­lined by in­juries with a goal as the Nether­lands beat Lux­em­bourg 3-1 in a World Cup qual­i­fier.

But the Bay­ern Mu­nich winger's long-awaited re­turn lasted only 45 min­utes, with Robben ap­pear­ing in dis­com­fort late in the first half and not re­turn­ing af­ter the break. His re­place­ment, Mem­phis De­pay, seized his chance by scor­ing twice to en­sure the Nether­lands went sec­ond in Group A be­hind leader France.

Da­ley Blind set up De­pay's first goal and said he was happy for his Manch­ester United team­mate, who has strug­gled at Old Traf­ford.

"It's great for him," Blind said. "I know he is work­ing re­ally hard. He de­served it."

Robben opened the scor­ing with a trade­mark goal to give the Nether­lands a 36th-minute lead, col­lect­ing a quick pass from Davy Klaassen, cut­ting in from the right and shoot­ing low into the far cor­ner with his left foot.

Robben's at­tack­ing threat was not enough to make up for the de­fen­sive frail­ties that have plagued the Nether­lands in the last two years and Lux­em­bourg lev­eled just be­fore half time.

PSV wing back Joshua Brenet, start­ing his first in­ter­na­tional for the Nether­lands, hauled down Daniel Da Mota as he cut in from the left and ref­eree An­thony Tay­lor pointed to the spot.

De­fender Maxime Chanot calmly stroked the ball to Maarten Steke­len­burg's right as the 'keeper went to his left for Lux­em­bourg's first goal against the Nether­lands since 1963.

The sec­ond half started without Robben, who said he felt a small cramp just be­fore the in­ter­val and the doc­tor told him he should not take any risks.

"It's a great shame," Robben said. "I wanted to play."

De­pay, who has fallen out of fa­vor with Manch­ester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho, com­bined with Blind to re­store the Nether­lands' lead in the 58th, pow­er­fully head­ing in his cross from the left. It was the fourth in­ter­na­tional goal for De­pay.

He got his fifth by curl­ing a free kick over the Lux­em­bourg wall six min­utes from full­time.

In Group A's other match Sun­day, Spar­tak Moscow's Ivelin Popov scored af­ter 10 min­utes as Bul­garia beat Be­larus 1-0 in Sofia.

In group H Bel­gium main­tained its 100 per­cent record with a mas­sive 8-1 over Es­to­nia, who had just con­ceeded seven goals in their pre­vi­ous three en­coun­ters of the group.

Me­u­nier, Mertens and Eden Haz­ard gave bel­gium a three­goal lead by the in­ter­val, but there was no stop­ping the Bel­gians yes­ter­day as they scored five more goals af­ter the break.

Car­rasco, a Kla­van own goal, Dries Mertens sec­ond one, and a brace from Romelu Lukaku com­pleted Es­to­nia’s mis­ery.

Greece and Bos­nia drew 1-1 in an­other match.

Erin Derdiyok cel­e­brates his goal for Switzer­land yes­ter­day

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