Home Football World Cup Round-Up: Portugal Lose, France Held To Surprise Draw

World Cup Round-Up: Portugal Lose, France Held To Surprise Draw

The final wave of opening European World Cup qualifiers took place tonight, as Euro 2016 finalists Portugal and France both got their respective campaigns underway.

In Group A, France took on Belarus in Barysaw, looking to bounce back from the disappointment of losing the European Championship on home soil. However, it was to be a frustrating night for Didier Deschamps’ side. A resolute home defence rendered the French goalless, with the score finishing 0-0.

Elsewhere, Sweden began the post-Zlatan era at home to the Netherlands, with the away side under serious pressure to start well following their failure to qualify for Euro 2016. Marcus Berg put the hosts in front just before half time, but a Wesley Sneijder equaliser on the 67th minute meant that both sides left with a point.

In the other game in this group, Bulgaria played out an absolute thriller at home to Luxembourg. The away side thought they had snatched a late point with a last-minute goal from Florian Bohnert, only for Alexander Tonev to go up the other end of the pitch and seal a 4-3 win for Bulgaria.

Netherlands' forward Vincent Janssen (R) vies with Sweden's defender Victor Nilsson Lindelof (L) and midfielder Alexander Fransson during the WC 2018 football qualification match between Sweden and Netherland in Solna, on September 6, 2016. / AFP / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

In Group B, European champions Portugal started their campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Switzerland. Without Cristiano Ronaldo due to injury, the away side fell to first-half goals from Breel Embolo and Admir Mehmedi.

Before Hungary’s game away to the Faroe Islands tonight, Honved chairman George Hemingway suggested that the players and management should return with a sign reading “shame” around their necks if they did not win by at least three or four goals. They failed to score even one, as the Faroes held them to a highly-impressive 0-0 draw.

In the group’s other game, Latvia came away from Andorra with a 1-0 win.

Switzerland's forward Breel Embolo (R) celebrates his team's first goal with teammate forward Haris Seferovic during the World Cup 2018 football qualifier between Switzerland and Portugal at the St. Jakob-Park stadium in Basel on September 6, 2016. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

In Group H, Roberto Martínez’s first competitive game in charge of Belgium ended in a 3-0 victory away to Cyprus. The Red Devils will face more formidable opposition down the line, but two goals from Romelu Lukaku and a third from Atlético Madrid forward Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco gave Martínez just the started he needed.

Bosnia and Herzegovina also had an easy time of it, running out 5-0 winners at home to Estonia. Emir Spahic started and finished the scoring, with Edin Dzeko, Haris Medunjanin and Vedad Ibisevic also getting on the scoresheet.

Euro 2004 winners Greece came away from Gibraltar with a 4-1 win. The home side were level at 1-1 at one point, but three goals in the last minutes of the first half meant that Michael Skibbe’s side avoided embarrassment.

Cyprus' Kostas Laifis (L) vies with Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne during their World Cup 2018 Europe qualifying football match Cyprus versus Belgium on September 6, 2016 at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia. / AFP / Sakis Savvides (Photo credit should read SAKIS SAVVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

The meeting of Albania and Macedonia had to be abandoned last night in the 75th minute, meaning the game picked up where it left off today. Albania had enough time to score a second and claim a 2-1 victory.

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