Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal in the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign but then missed a sitter as Portugal were forced to come from behind to beat Luxembourg 3-1 away on Tuesday.
Luxembourg went into the game full of confidence after beating the Republic of Ireland 1-0 and they took a shock lead against the European champions when Portuguese-born Gerson Rodrigues, who scored in Dublin, glanced in a header on the half-hour.
Portugal went close to levelling on two occasions before Diogo Jota headed in their equaliser in the second minute of added time at the end of the first half. Ronaldo, who had been denied a goal in the 2-2 draw against Serbia on Saturday despite the ball clearly crossing the line, put Portugal in charge early in the second half, firing into the far bottom corner after combining with João Cancelo. Ronaldo should have scored again when the ball landed at his feet following a terrible Luxembourg backpass but he shot straight at Anthony Moris, who saved the striker’s second attempt with his feet.
João Palhinha put Fernando Santos’s side further ahead in the 80th minute by heading home a Pedro Neto corner and Luxembourg’s Maxime Chanot was sent off for a second booking in the 87th. The victory lifted Portugal to the top of Group A on seven points after three games, level with Serbia, who beat Azerbaijan 2-1 thanks to Aleksandar Mitrovic’s double, while Luxembourg are third with three points.
Belgium had been held 1-1 by the Czech Republic on Saturday but claimed their second Group E win in emphatic fashion – an 8-0 victory over Belarus.
Coach Roberto Martínez gave chances to several of his fringe players and was rewarded with a rampant display as Hans Vanaken and Leandro Trossard scored twice while Michy Batshuayi, Jeremy Doku, Denis Praet and Christian Benteke were also on target. Belgium now top the group with seven points, while the Czechs – who lost to Wales on Tuesday – are second with four.
The Netherlands winger Steven Berghuis scored one goal and set up another as they overcame a wasteful first half to ultimately thump Gibraltar 7-0 in their World Cup qualifier at the Victoria Stadium.
Luuk de Jong, Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Donyell Malen shared four goals between them in nine second-half minutes to give an emphatic look to the score after a stuttering opening period frustrated manager Frank de Boer.
Substitute Donny van de Beek added a sixth late on and Depay got his second as the Netherlands recorded their biggest away win since a 7-0 success over San Marino in 1993. The Dutch moved into second place in Group G with six points from three games, one point behind leaders Turkey who were surprisingly held to a 3-3 draw at home by Latvia.
Before the match, the Dutch players again wore T-shirts designed to highlight the plight of migrant workers in Qatar, who host the next World Cup.
A late Robert Mak strike gave Slovakia a 2-1 win against Russia in Group H as the home side soaked up late pressure from the visitors to hang on for the victory.
Milan Skriniar put the hosts in front in the 38th minute when the Internazionale defender slipped his marker and headed home after connecting with a Mak corner.
Russia drew level in the 71st minute after Mário Fernandes scooped a rebound into the net. But Mak found a winner three minutes later when he latched onto a Tomas Hubocan pass inside the penalty area before beating a pair of Russian defenders and driving the ball past the Russia goalkeeper, Anton Shunin.
Russia are level on six points with Croatia at the top of Group H while Slovakia are a point behind. In the other group matches Croatia cruised past Malta 3-0 while Cyprus beat Slovenia 1-0.