France, Portugal qualify for World Cup
Redacción Agencias | 10/11/2017, 7:22 a.m.
Antoine Griezmann scored one goal and assisted on another to lead France to a 2-1 victory here Tuesday night over Belarus and a berth in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while Portugal also qualified for soccer's main showcase with a 2-0 win over Switzerland.
France was far from dominant at Stade de France in Saint-Denis but one goal by Griezmann in the 27th minute and another by Olivier Giroud six minutes later proved to be just enough offense.
The visitors clawed one back on a goal shortly before halftime by Anton Saroka, who later nearly got the equalizer in the waning moments of the second half.
France still would have qualified for the World Cup on Tuesday with a draw or even a loss, because Sweden lost 2-0 to the Netherlands in its final qualifying match.
Portugal, meanwhile, needed a win over Switzerland to avoid having to qualify via the second round and it managed to do so, snagging a 2-0 win Tuesday night at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.
In other action Tuesday, Belgium completed all 10 UEFA first-round qualifying matches without a single defeat, topping Cyprus 4-0 at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.
With the first round (group stage) complete, the following nine European countries have qualified directly for the World Cup: France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium and Iceland.
The eight best runners-up in the first round - Sweden, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Greece and Croatia - will compete in the second-round playoffs, which will feature four home-and-away ties in November.
The winner of each those match-ups, to be determined in a draw next Tuesday, will book a berth in Russia.