Ma­tu­idi goal keeps France in driv­ing seat

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football -

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.

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