Bundesliga regulars make the difference
THE DAY REPLAYED – Germany’s top flight played a key role in Saturday’s European FIFA World Cup qualifiers as Bundesliga players netted the first five goals of the evening. The night also provided surprises as well as solid wins for several of the favourites. FIFA.com brings you all the key moments from the latest step on the road to Russia.
25 March Group A: Sweden 4-0 Belarus, Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands, Luxembourg 1-3 France Group B: Switzerland 1-0 Latvia, Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands, Portugal 3-0 Hungary Group H: Cyprus 0-0 Estonia, *Bosnia and Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar, Belgium 1-1 Greece
Match of the day Belgium 1-1 Greece Excitement is guaranteed whenever the group leaders face their closest rivals, and this encounter was no exception. Konstantinos Mitroglou’s strike looked like handing the Hellenic side an altogether surprising 1-0 away win until Romelu Lukaku equalised in the 89th minute to ensure the Red Devils retain first place in Group H.
Elsewhere Bosnia and Herzegovina took full advantage of the stalemate in Belgium by beating Gibraltar 5-0 to move back within striking distance of top spot.
The situation in Group H
France endured a much more difficult evening than expected in Luxembourg, even conceding an equaliser at 1-1 before Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann found the target to keep the UEFA EURO 2016 runners-up at the summit of Group A. Their nearest challengers are still Sweden, who secured a much more straightforward 4-0 victory over Belarus to boost their goal difference. Meanwhile Bulgaria sprung the biggest surprise of the night by beating the Netherlands 2-0, pushing the Dutch down to fourth place in the table, and forcing them to contemplate the prospect of missing their second successive major tournament after EURO 2016.
The situation in Group A
By narrowly beating Latvia 1-0, Switzerland extended their winning streak to five matches and became the strongest team in Russia 2018 qualifying so far – an accolade only world champions Germany can take from them with victory in Azerbaijan tomorrow. The battle for top spot in Group B is fast becoming a two-horse race between Die Eidgenossen and Portugal, who defeated Hungary 3-0.
The situation in Group B
Player of the day Josip Drmic scored with his first touch just two minutes after being brought on as a substitute. His 66th minute strike ultimately proved decisive for Switzerland as their 1-0 win preserved their flawless start to qualifying.
The stat 2 – Three players – Sweden’s Emil Forsberg, Bosnia and Herzegovina forward Vedad Ibisevic and Bulgaria’s Spas Delev – all netted a brace to give their teams a 2-0 lead and put them firmly on course for victory. The Best FIFA Men’s Player Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Giroud (France) also picked up two goals apiece during today’s action.
Did you know? Andorra brought their run of 58 consecutive qualification defeats to an end, winning their first point in more than 11-and-a-half years with a goalless draw against the Faroe Islands.
What they said "It was important to stay calm. In the second half we put everything in the game to provoke the goal. We have to produce more pressure up front. The decisive pass has to get in place, and we have to score goals." Vladimir Petkovic, Switzerland coach