Matuidi goal keeps France in driving seat
Blaise Matuidi’s early goal proved enough for France to secure a crucial 1-0 victory in Bulgaria which put them back at the top of World Cup European qualifying Group A.
The pressure was on after Sweden had earlier swept past Luxembourg 8-0 to boost their hopes of making it to Russia, which in turn all but eliminated Holland, who later won 3-1 in Belarus.
Juventus midfielder Matuidi lashed home an angled finish after just three minutes in Sofia, which leaves France a point clear of Sweden and crucially with fate in their own hands ahead of the visit of Belarus on Tuesday.
Substitute Cristiano Ronaldo lifted Portugal to a laboured 2-0 win at Andorra, and set up a showdown against Switzerland next week that will decide who advances from Group B.
Ronaldo was rested and watched the first half from the bench. But he came on after 63 minutes to help them earn their eighth straight win. However, Switzerland hit a perfect nine with a comfortable win at home over Hungary 5-2 and need only a draw from Tuesday’s game in Lisbon.
In Africa, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi came off the bench to score the goal that booked Nigeria’s World Cup place yesterday.
The Super Eagles needed to beat Zambia to secure passage from Group B and duly delivered with the goal in the 73rd minute when Chelsea’s Victor Moses linked with Abdullahi Shehu on the right, with the latter cutting back for Iwobi to slot home.
Liverpool’s prospective midfielder Naby Keita scored and was sent off in Guinea’s 4-1 defeat to Tunisia.
Egypt can book their ticket if they beat Congo today after Uganda were held to a goalless draw by Ghana in their Group E clash.