2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Zone Europe – notable matches as it happened.
European nations have all played a total of 3 games in the World Cup qualifiers. Here are some of the notable matches of match day 3:
Netherlands 0-1 France
Netherlands have been rebuilding following a shocking Euro 2016 qualifiers campaign that prevented the Oranje from going to France. Do not forget that the Netherlands finished on the podium of the 2014 FIFA World Cup by beating Brazil 3-0 in the third place match.. this period seems like very far away in time already. Some notable names have left the team or have not played with it such Van Persie, Huntelaar and Robben and a complete rebuilding process is underway.
France came as a test for Netherlands but the French were able to control most of the game and only conceded a couple occasions on goals that GK Lloris saved. The man of the match was certainly Paul Pogba, the record-transfer in the history of football, provided a stellar performance highlighted by his goal during the first half.
France leads the group along side Sweden as both teams will square off in Paris next November.
Gibraltar 0-6 Belgium
Crystal Palace’s striker, Christian Benteke scored the fastest goal ever in the World Cup history, qualifiers combined, after just 7 seconds! Benteke then added two more goals for his hat-trick in a large victory
Germany 2-0 Northern Ireland
Germany delivered a solid performance against a serious group rival. It is the third win in 3 games for the World Champions but also the third clean sheets that tells a lot about the German defense. It would be a shocker for Germany not to win its group and move on to the World Cup in Russia.
Slovenia 0-0 England
The draw is not the best result for England but with 7 points, the British remains on top of the table after three games. Coach Southgate reacts to the deadlock:
“The overall objective is to qualify so, long term, maybe that’s a point that is important towards that. Everyone can see we could be better but their chances came from our mistakes or set-pieces and that is something that needs to be better.
Having said that some of those mistakes were when we tried to play on what was a very tricky surface. We want to encourage the boys to play but also they have got to play sensibly as well. We owe our goalkeeper really for getting a point. He was fantastic. He’s at his best when he’s calm and composed and it’s something he’s aware of. We’ve discussed that and this week his professionalism and his training has been excellent and his manner has been very calm across these two matches.
He was at his best tonight. It was a brilliant save, we didn’t start either half well and that has to be better and it’s an outstanding save that gets us a point.”
Poland 2-1 Armenia
Poland can thank again Robert Lewandowski who scored the winning goal with the last touch of the game. He has now scored in eight straight qualifiers and gives Poland the edge in the group. He joins Cristiano Ronaldo with 5 goals in the qualifiers so far.