France win to stay top over Sweden; Ronaldo needed to save Portugal

France win to stay top over Sweden; Ronaldo needed to save Portugal

France have returned to the top of their 2018 World Cup qualification group courtesy of a 1-0 win over Bulgaria on Saturday night.

Sweden thrashed Luxembourg 8-0 earlier in the day.

It wasn't all plain sailing for France as the engine was stripped out of their midfield 10 minutes before half-time when Chelsea's N'Golo Kante went off with a hamstring injury, to be replaced by Adrien Rabiot.

The three points propels them back to the summit of Group A and they go into Tuesday's game against Belarus knowing a win will guarantee automatic qualification for the World Cup in Russian Federation next year. Those results mean the likes of Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland (the latter two face off in a victor takes all meeting on Monday) will be guaranteed a playoff place if they win their final games.

The opening goal came in the 24th minute when Ryan Babel played a cross to the far post for Arjen Robben, who with one touch centred for Davy Proepper to score.

Belarus equalised through Maksim Volodjko.

At minute 3, Juventus star Matuidi took a pass from Griezmann and booted the ball past Iliev into the net to give France a 1-0 lead.

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The Swiss can qualify on Tuesday with at least a draw in Portugal, who needed Cristiano Ronaldo to come off the bench to rescue a 2-0 victory in Andorra.

'We have a quality group with lots of players. The striker came on as a substitute in the second half and scored a crucial goal.

Greece could also finish second in the group as they trail Bosnia-Herzegovina by a point ahead of their trip to Cyprus.

Michael Skibbe's side are nearly certain to finish second as they host pointless Gibraltar in their last game on Tuesday, although they could still miss out on the play-offs as the worst second-placed team.

Cyprus, on 10 points, could have stayed in contention but an very bad mistake by Konstantinos Laifis six minutes later let Greece back into the game.

Goals from Haris Medunjanin and Edin Visca put the Bosnians ahead in Sarajevo after Belgium full-back Thomas Muenier's early strike, but Michy Batshuayi and Jan Vertonghen turned things around.

Another game in the same group between two teams with no hope of progress saw Gibraltar lose 6-0 to Estonia after goals from Siim Luts, Mattias Kait, Sergei Zenjov and a 25-minute Joonas Tamm hat trick.

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