Portugal, France reach 2018 World Cup; Netherlands eliminated
11 Oct 2017
Portugal beat Switzerland 2-0 on Tuesday to earn automatic qualification for the 2018 World Cup, leaving their Group B opponents facing the play-offs, while France also secured their place in Russia.
Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud struck as Les Bleus beat Belarus 2-1 to top Group A while Sweden finished runners-up despite losing 2-0 against 2010 finalists Netherlands, who were eliminated.
Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben struck both Dutch goals before announcing his international retirement after the game.
Greece thrashed Gibraltar 4-0 to earn a second place finish behind Belgium in Group H and confirm their place in the play-offs, at the expense of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo had a quiet night in Lisbon but his side deserved to book their place at the World Cup.
Bernardo Silva came close in the first half with a strike tipped over by Yann Sommer, before the goalkeeper got tangled up with his own defender Johan Djourou for the opening goal just before half-time.
Joao Mario caused havoc as he tried to reach a cross along with Djourou and Sommer, with the ball bouncing in off the Swiss centre back to break the deadlock just before half-time.
In the 57th minute Andre Silva doubled the hosts' lead by forcing the ball home from close range after a slick team move.
Sommer denied Ronaldo after the striker broke through but his team-mates were creating little at the other and and rarely troubled Portugal’s back line.
"It was a fantastic game," said Bernardo Silva. "I want to thank all the fans who have been here. With their support we managed to qualify the World Cup.
"As we did in the European Championships we always try to win, so we will try to win the World Cup."
Elsewhere in Group B Hungary finished third after beating the Faroe Islands 1-0, while Latvia thrashed Andorra 4-0.
Belarus forward Anton Saroka's 44th minute strike pegged back France after they raced into a two-goal lead, but Didier Deschamps' men held on to confirm their progress to Russia and reach their sixth straight World Cup.
However Netherlands, who finished third in the 2014 World Cup, were eliminated despite seeing off Sweden comfortably thanks to captain Robben’s first-half brace, taking him to 37 goals in 96 international games.
The 33-year-old winger chipped home a Panenka penalty and fired home a spectacular second from the edge of the area as the Dutch finished level on points with their opponents but were eliminated thanks to Sweden’s positive goal difference of 17 compared to their 9.
After failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002, Robben, who was pictured crying before kick-off, told NOS: "I wanted to show all the things I could do, one more time.
"If you want to keep playing for a top club as long as possible, you have to make choices.
"I want to focus on my club now, it’s a good time to pass the baton to the next generation."
Luxembourg drew 1-1 with Bulgaria in the other Group A clash.
Konstantinos Mitroglou struck a second-half brace as Greece reached the play-offs with an easy win over Gibraltar, while Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Estonia 2-1 to no avail in Group H.
Already-qualified Belgium thrashed Cyprus 4-0 with two goals from Chelsea winger Eden Hazard, one for his brother Thorgan Hazard and Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku rounding off the rout.
The play-off draw takes place on Tuesday October 17 in Zurich, with ties over two legs to take place between November 9 and 14.