England, Portugal hammer minnows

UPSETTING THE ORDER::Iceland suffered a 4-2 loss to Albania that dropped them three points behind the leaders and allowed Turkey to surpass France for first

AFP, PARIS

Thu, Sep 12, 2019 - Page 16

England and Portugal on Tuesday both scored five goals while France scored three as they overcame lowly-ranked Kosovo, Andorra and Lithuania respectively in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Captain Cristiano Ronaldo, making his 160th international appearance, scored four as Portugal won 5-1 in Vilnius and strengthened their position in Group B after a sluggish start.

For Ronaldo it was a second hat-trick in three internationals. The victory over Lithuania, 130th in the world rankings, brought Portugal five points behind Ukraine at the top of Group B.

Portugal, who opened the group with home draws against Ukraine and Serbia, started their recovery with a victory in Belgrade on Saturday last week. They have a game in hand on all the other teams in the group.

“We were better, we are better and we won because of it,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “We kept the pace after the win at Serbia, otherwise this triumph would make no sense, and we are closer.”

Ronaldo’s first goal was a penalty.

The second, with the scores level after an hour, was a scuffed low shot from outside the penalty area that took a couple of strange bounces off the artificial turf before it was parried into the air by a diving Ernestas Setkus. The dropping ball hit the back of the goalie’s head before rolling in.

The third was a clinical volley from close range.

The fourth was a low shot into the corner.

Vytautas Andriuskevicius scored the hosts’ only goal before William Carvalho added a fifth for the reigning champions at the end.

Serbia beat Luxembourg 3-1, as Aleksandar Mitrovic netted twice, to solidify their grasp on third place in the group. They are a point behind Portugal.

In Southampton, England, Gareth Southgate’s England side trailed early on to Kosovo, ranked 120th in the world, when Valon Berisha scored after 34 seconds.

England replied with a first-half goal binge that ended with Jadon Sancho scoring twice to make it 5-1 at the break.

The visitors claimed two back in the second half, including a second for SS Lazio midfielder Berisha, but the 5-3 victory put England three points clear in Group A, ahead of the second-placed Czech Republic, who beat Montenegro 3-0.

“A bizarre game,” Southgate said. “The outstanding parts of our play were obvious. The errors were obvious.”

In Paris, the world champions made light work of beating 136th-ranked Andorra 3-0. It was Les Bleus’ 100th match at the Stade de France.

Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty for his country for the second match running, but Kinglsey Coman, Clement Lenglet, with his first international goal, and Wissam Ben Yedder clinched three points.

“It is really annoying. I’ll just need to keep working. You can’t be on top of your game all the time,” Griezmann said.

Coman also scored two against Albania on Saturday.

“It has been a very good week. It has gone well personally and collectively,” Coman told TV station TF1.

Cenk Tosun scored twice as Turkey beat Moldova with ease in a 4-0 victory in Chisinau.

However, Iceland, who had been level with the top two, suffered a blow as they lost 4-2 in Albania. That result meant Iceland dropped three points behind.

It also changed the tiebreak, allowing Turkey to take first place from France.