France, Portugal back on track
PARIS, SEPT 8: France and Portugal got their Euro 2020 qualification campaigns back on track with impressive wins over Balkan pair Albania and Serbia that boosted the world and European champions chances of making next summer's tournament.
France moved back top of Group H with a 4-1 thumping of Albania thanks to a Kingsley Coman's first international goals in more than three years and further strikes from Olivier Giroud and substitute Jonathan Ikone at the Stade de France. Iceland briefly led the standings after beating Moldova 3-0 earlier in the day, but were joined on 12 points by Didier Deschamps side and Turkey, who needed a last minute Ozan Tufan strike to edge Andorra 1-0, with the French on top on goal difference.
"The balance sheet is very positive. We could have won by more," said Deschamps.
"We did what we had to do, even if we relaxed a bit at the end."
The easy win was a good end to a night that started off in bizarre fashion, with the match kicking off late after the hosts mistakenly played the Andorran anthem, leading to the bemused Albanian players refusing to play until the right tune was played.
"It was a big thing. The players said they wouldn't start without the right anthem," said Albania's Italian coach Edoardo Reja.
Portugal meanwhile are second in Group B on five points from three games after they also struck four times in Belgrade, with William Carvalho, Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva giving Fernando Santos' side a 4-2 victory that was also their first win of the qualifying campaign.
They are eight points behind leaders Ukraine, who top the group unbeaten having played five times after their 3-0 drubbing of Lithuania. However Portugal had a much trickier time than the French, with Nikola Milenkovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic twice pulling goals at a loud Stadion Rajko Mitic back before Silva finally made sure of the three points four minutes from the end.
On Tuesday, Portugal have a chance to consolidate their position in the group when they head to winless Lithuania, while Serbia travel to lowly Luxembourg with both a point behind Ronaldo and co. -AFP