Euro 2020 roundup: Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick fires Portugal to verge of finals | Football


Cristiano Ronaldo scored his ninth international hat-trick, moving to 98 goals for his country, as Portugal thumped Lithuania 6-0 in a Euro 2020 qualifier.

The Portugal captain, whose treble was the 55th of his career, could become only the second player to score a century for his country after Iran’s Ali Daei. Ronaldo showed no sign of the knee problem which led to him being substituted in his last two games for Juventus – prompting an angry reaction on the second occasion. Pizzi, Gonçalo Paciência and Bernardo Silva shared the other goals in the one-sided Group B match.

The European champions, however, were left waiting to confirm their place at next year’s finals after Aleksandar Mitrovic struck twice in Serbia’s 3-2 home win against Luxembourg. Portugal are second with 14 points, one ahead of Serbia, and will qualify if they win in Luxembourg on Sunday. The Group B leaders, Ukraine, have already made the finals.

France’s efforts to celebrate their qualification were almost spoiled by Moldova, with an Olivier Giroud penalty sparing their blushes as they came from behind to win 2-1 and go top of Group H. Turkey’s scoreless draw with Iceland earlier in the evening ensured they and the world champions would qualify from the group, but the Moldovans were intent on spoiling the French party. The away aside took the lead in the ninth minute when Clément Lenglet followed up a bad defensive header with an even worse one, giving Vadim Rata the chance to poke the ball home. France equalised in controversial circumstances in the 35th minute as Giroud challenged Alexei Cosele, forcing the Moldova keeper to spill the ball for Raphaël Varane to head into an empty net. France struggled to find a winner and it took a 79th-minute Giroud penalty for a foul on Lucas Digne to secure the three points.

Elsewhere in the group, Albania had to come from behind to grab a 2-2 draw at home to Andorra.

Czech Republic joined England in qualifying for Euro 2020 from Group A by coming from behind to beat Kosovo 2-1. Alex Kral scored one goal and set up another to secure the home side second spot after Atdhe Nuhiu’s 50th-minute opener had threatened an upset.


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