Tue, Oct 10, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Lewandowski sets new record

UNSTOPPABLE:Germany routed Azerbaijan to make it 10 wins from 10 and join Spain as the only sides to finish a European qualifying campaign with a perfect record

AFP, PARIS

Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, front, scores past Montenegro goalkeeper Danijel Petkovic in their FIFA World Cup qualifier in Warsaw on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Robert Lewandowski on Sunday scored a European qualifying record 16th goal as Poland defeated Montenegro 4-2 to reach next year’s FIFA World Cup, while reigning champions Germany secured a 10th successive win.

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski struck again in what has been a remarkable qualifying campaign as Poland recovered from throwing away a two-goal lead in Warsaw to secure a first trip to the World Cup finals since 2006.

“I was angry. We were leading 2-0 at home and then let them equalize for 2-all. We had to score that third goal to calm things down,” said Lewandowski, who moved ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s 15-goal tally.

Krzysztof Maczynski and Kamil Grosicki struck early as Poland made a dream start, but Montenegro hit back through goals from Stefan Mugosa and Zarko Tomasevic to pull level with just seven minutes left.

Lewandowski restored Poland’s advantage on 85 minutes, before a late own-goal by Filip Stojkovic sealed the victory, although Denmark’s 1-1 draw at home to Romania ultimately rendered the outcome irrelevant.

“Congratulations to all the players who were able to hold on until the end,” Poland coach Adam Nawalka said. “The players have proved themselves in difficult moments, hence our qualification and it’s in very good style.”

Denmark are at least assured of a place in next month’s playoffs as one of the eight best runners-up from the nine qualifying groups.

Germany made it 10 wins from 10 in Group C after routing Azerbaijan 5-1 in Kaiserslautern to join Spain as the only nations in history to finish a European qualifying campaign with a perfect record.

Leon Goretzka’s opening goal was negated by Ramil Sheydaev on 34 minutes, but Sandro Wagner and Antonio Ruediger scored after halftime, before Goretzka notched his second and Emre Can completed the victory.

Germany scored a European qualifying record 43 goals on the road to Russia, emulating Spain, who achieved perfection in qualifying ahead of their triumph at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

“It would be a mistake to use this qualifying campaign as a benchmark. Sure it was good, but the World Cup will be a different matter,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “It will be hard to win the World Cup for a second time.”

Northern Ireland slid to a 1-0 defeat to Norway in Oslo after an own-goal by Chris Brunt, but Michael O’Neill’s men were already guaranteed a berth in the playoffs after earlier results.

Slovakia face an anxious wait to discover whether they will advance to the playoffs after finishing second behind England in Group F following a comfortable 3-0 win over Malta.

Adam Nemec grabbed a brace with Ondrej Duda adding a third in Trnava as Slovakia extended Scotland’s 20-year exile from the finals of major tournaments.

Gordon Strachan’s team arrived in Slovenia two points clear of Slovakia going into the final round of matches, but dropped to third after being held to a 2-2 draw in Ljubljana.

“I have never been in a dressing room as silent as that,” said Strachan, who refused to be drawn on his future as Scotland manager. “At this moment, I am the last person thinking about that.”

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