Portugal, France get off to poor start in World Cup qualifiers

Basel, Sep 7 (IANS) Reigning Euro champion Portugal and runner-up France endured disappointing starts to their 2018 World Cup football qualifying campaigns while Belgium and Bulgaria won their respective matches.

Playing without superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal lost 0-2 away to Switzerland through goals from Breel Embolo and Ahmed Mehmedi here on Tuesday, reports Efe.

The French had to settle for a 0-0 draw in Belarus thanks to a fine performance from the home team goalkeeper Andrei Gorbunov.

Belgium, in the first competitive match under new coach Roberto Martinez, cruised to a 3-0 away victory over Cyprus on a pair of goals by Romelu Lukaku and one from Yannick Carrasco.

Sweden took a 1-0 lead at home over the Netherlands, but midfielder Wesley Sneijder equalised to salvage a 1-1 draw for the visitors.

In another qualifier, Albania topped Macedonia 2-1.

Bosnia-Herzegovina pounded Estonia 5-0 and Greece romped to a 4-1 victory over Gibraltar.

Andorra fell 1-0 at home to Latvia. Hungary could manage only a scoreless draw with Faroe Islands.

Bulgaria beat Luxembourg 4-3 on a stoppage time goal by Alexandar Tonev.

–IANS

sam/dg

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