Wed, 23 Sep 2020

Luxembourg - Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 99th international goal as reigning champions Portugal secured their place at the Euro 2020 finals on Sunday with a 2-0 victory away to Luxembourg, while France ended their qualifying campaign with victory.

Bruno Fernandes struck the opening goal on 39 minutes before Ronaldo tapped in a scrappy second late on to clinch second place in Group B behind winners Ukraine, who drew 2-2 in Serbia.

Iranian striker Ali Daei holds the world record with 109 international goals scored in 149 appearances between 1993 and 2006.

"All records must be broken and I will beat that record," said Ronaldo.

Portugal became the 17th nation to qualify for next year's multi-host tournament, which kicks off in Rome on June 12, joining the likes of world champions France, Spain, Italy and England.

"We can't give the match high marks for style," said Portugal coach Fernando Santos, who admitted the heavy pitch made life challenging for his team.

"I'm very happy for my players because the qualifying campaign has been more difficult than we expected.

"We're through to the finals of a major tournament for an 11th straight time. You've got to believe in these players."

Portugal knew they would book their place at Euro 2020 with a win or by matching Serbia's result from their game in Belgrade.

But they were made to work hard by a Luxembourg team ranked 96th in the world that notably held France to a 0-0 draw in 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Sporting Lisbon midfielder Fernandes broke the deadlock before half-time, controlling Bernardo Silva's pinpoint pass expertly before lashing in from 20 yards.

Ronaldo, who smacked in a hat-trick in Thursday's 6-0 thrashing of Lithuania, moved to the brink of his international century four minutes from time.

Silva's far-post cross was forced towards goal by Diogo Jota, with Luxembourg goalkeeper Anthony Moris getting a hand to the ball before Ronaldo turned in from the goalline.

France sign off with win

Later on Sunday, world champions France wrapped up top spot in Group H as goals from Corentin Tolisso and Antoine Griezmann sealed a 2-0 win over Albania in Tirana.

"I'm very dependent on the players," French World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps said after his 100th game in charge.

"It's a personal pride. But it's good to see what the players do together. At times, it can be a bit more difficult with changes to the players, injured players, but the spirit is there."

The French national anthem was roundly booed before kick-off as retribution for the error that saw the Andorran anthem played instead of the Albanian one when the teams met in September at the Stade de France.

The visitors made a quick start on the pitch, though, as Bayern Munich midfielder Tolisso headed Griezmann's free-kick into the bottom corner.

The Barcelona star slotted in the second himself on the half-hour mark, before the dead rubber petered out in the second period, with Olivier Giroud going closest to a third by striking the post.

The other games in the group saw Turkey, who had also already sealed qualification, beat Andorra 2-0, while Iceland edged to a 2-1 victory at Moldova.

England rounded off an impressive campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of Kosovo.

Goals from Harry Winks, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount ensured England finished at the Group A summit, having scored 37 goals in just eight matches.

"We know there is still a bit of work to do but I can't fault the players in this campaign, they've been ruthless. We're more settled with the group now," said England manager Gareth Southgate.

The Czech Republic are also through, but lost 1-0 in Bulgaria on Sunday.

Euro 2020 qualifying results on Sunday:

Group A

At Pristina

Kosovo 0 England 4 (Winks 32, Kane 79, Rashford 83, Mount 90+1)

At Sofia

Bulgaria 1 (Bozhikov 56) Czech Republic 0

Group B

At Belgrade

Serbia 2 (Tadic 9-pen, Mitrovic 56) Ukraine 2 (Yaremchuk 32, Besedin 90+3)

At Luxembourg

Luxembourg 0 Portugal 2 (Fernandes 39, Ronaldo 86)

Group H

At Chisinau

Moldova 1 (Milinceanu 56) Iceland 2 (Bjarnason 17, Sigurdsson 65)

At Andorra la Vella

Andorra 0 Turkey 2 (Unal 17, 21-pen)

At Tirana

Albania 0 France 2 (Tolisso 9, Griezmann 30)

Playing on Monday, November 18 (21:45 SA time):

Group D

At Dublin

Republic of Ireland v Denmark

At Gibraltar

Gibraltar v Switzerland

Group F

At Stockholm

Sweden v Faroe Islands

At Madrid

Spain v Romania

At Ta' Qali, Malta

Malta v Norway

Group J

At Vaduz

Liechtenstein v Bosnia and Herzegovina

At Palermo, Italy

Italy v Armenia

At Athens

Greece v Finland

Tuesday, November 19

Group C

At Amsterdam

Netherlands v Estonia

At Frankfurt, Germany

Germany v Northern Ireland

Group E

At Cardiff

Wales v Hungary

At Trnava, Slovakia

Slovakia v Azerbaijan

Group G

At Warsaw

Poland v Slovenia

At Riga

Latvia v Austria

At Skopje

North Macedonia v Israel

Group I

At Brussels

Belgium v Cyprus

At Serravalle, San Marino

San Marino v Russia

At Glasgow, Scotland

Scotland v Kazakhstan

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