The second wave of European World Cup qualifiers took place on Friday evening and, in truth, shocks were in short supply.
To group A first, where Bulgaria at least threatened to cause a repeat of their famous 1993 win by going a goal up in France, courtesy of a Mihail Aleksandrov penalty after just six minutes. However, this French team are better than that, and a double from Kevin Gameiro, with further strikes from Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann, ensured that Didier Deschamps’ side came away with the 4-1 win.
Belarus, who claimed a point against France in their last match, could not repeat the trick away to the Netherlands. An Aleksey Rios goal was scant consolation, as two goals from Quincy Promes, and one each from Davy Klaassen and Tottenham’s Vincent Janssen, meant that the Dutch also secured a 4-1 victory.
In the other game of the group, Sweden made hard work of it in Luxembourg, but a goal from Celtic’s Mikael Lustig on the hour mark gave them the win.
In Group B, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice within the first four minutes, that pretty much set the tone for how Portugal’s match at home to Andorra was going to go. The Real Madrid went on to score twice more (the first time he has scored four in a single game for his country), with extra goals coming from João Cancelo and André Silva either side of half time in a comfortable 6-0 win.
The Faroe Islands, the would-be minnows of this group, built on their impressive 0-0 draw at home to Hungary by defeating Latvia 2-0 away from home. This marks their first competitive victory in over a year, and their first away from home in almost two years (both victories were against Greece, by the way), Sonni Nattestad and Joan Simun Edmundsson the goalscorers.
Switzerland picked up a hard-fought 3-2 win away to Hungary. Three times they took the lead, through Haris Seferovic, Ricardo Rodríguez and Valentin Stocker, but were pegged back on the first two occasions by an Adam Szalai double. The win leaves the Swiss on top of the group, with six points from two games.
Latvia 0-2 Faroe Islands ?. Faroe’s now 2nd in Group B and above Portugal !!! Crazy !!! Well done to them ???? pic.twitter.com/O9AabNCpLI
— Shetani Saba (@ShetaniSaba) October 7, 2016
In Group H, Roberto Martínez’s Belgium (that still doesn’t look right) saw off Bosnia & Herzegovina in comprehensive fashion. An Emir Spahic own goal and Eden Hazard strike had the home side 2-0 up at half time, before Toby Alderweireld and Romelu Lukaku finished the job in the second to give Martínez a 4-0 victory.
Estonia defeated Gibraltar 4-0 in Tallinn, but the win was not quite as comfortable as that scoreline would suggest. The game was scoreless at half time, before two goals from Mattias Kaeit, and one each from Konstantin Vassiljev and Sergei Mosnikov, gave the home side the win against a stubborn Gibraltar outfit.
Greece defeated Cyprus 2-0 in the group’s other game to give the clearest indication yet that this campaign will not be as shambolic as the last one for them. Kostas Mitroglou and Kostas Manolas did the damage to leave the Greeks on maximum points from two games.
— BiHfootball (@BiHFootball) October 7, 2016
The second round of fixtures concludes on Saturday, when England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and current World Cup holders Germany will all be in action.