Cristiano Ronaldo's 58th career hat-trick inspires Portugal; Albania vs Poland and England's 1-1 draw with Hungary marred by night of unrest in Group I; Scotland 90 minutes away from play-offs after late win in Faroe Islands but Northern Ireland World Cup hopes dashed in Bulgaria
Wednesday 13 October 2021 12:54, UK
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Portugal thrashed Luxembourg 5-0 in World Cup Qualifying Group A.
Ronaldo converted two penalties inside the opening 13 minutes before completing his 58th career treble for club and country with a late header that took him to 115 international goals.
Bruno Fernandes and Palhinha also found the target as Portugal moved a point behind group leaders Serbia, who they host in the final round of matches.
Bernardo Silva was fouled to prompt the first penalty in the eighth minute, while Ronaldo himself was brought down inside the area before converting the second penalty five minutes later. He had to retake it, though, after Andr Silva entered the area too early.
Ronaldo also struck the post, before his Manchester United team-mate Fernandes made it 3-0 with just 18 minutes on the clock.
Palhinha netted a fourth in the 69th minute - moments after Ronaldo came close with a stunning bicycle kick that was saved by Luxembourg goalkeeper Anthony Moris.
But the man who broke Iranian Ali Daei's goalscoring record in men's international football last month pulled further away when he completed his hat trick three minutes from time.
Portugal's victory sets up a straight shootout with Serbia for first place after they beat Azerbaijan 3-1 in Belgrade.
Albania's World Cup qualifier against Poland was temporarily suspended after home supporters threw objects at opposition players celebrating the opening goal in Tirana.
Karol Swiderski gave the Poles a 1-0 lead with 13 minutes of the Group I encounter remaining before he and his team-mates were pelted with plastic drinks bottles from the stands. Players left the pitch for more than 20 minutes following the incident at the Air Albania Stadium.
Poland held on to their slender advantage when play resumed to climb above their hosts and move three points behind group leaders England in the race to reach next year's tournament in Qatar.
Before the incident which prompted the lengthy delay, Poland midfielder Piotr Zielinski was also targeted with an object from the crowd.
Albania, who are bidding to reach a World Cup finals for the first time, travel to Wembley to face Gareth Southgate's Three Lions next month, prior to completing their campaign at home to Andorra.
A forgettable night on and off the pitch for the home side leaves them five points adrift of England and two behind Poland, with the play-offs appearing to be their only realistic hope of qualifying.
Below-par England were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Hungary amid crowd trouble at Wembley on Tuesday, meaning a nervy penultimate qualifier with Albania awaits in November if they are to secure automatic passage to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Hungary had been beaten 4-0 by England last month but took the lead when Luke Shaw's high boot allowed Roland Sallai to score from the penalty spot (24) and a back-post finish from John Stones (37) was required to pull the hosts level.
Raheem Sterling headed against a post on the stroke of half-time as England began to find their stride but despite dominating the second period and seeing good chances passed up by Sterling and Harry Kane - who was surprisingly substituted with 15 minutes to play - there was no way through for Gareth Southgate's side.
Earlier, Hungary supporters - who had been punished for racist abuse of England players when the sides met in September - booed the home side taking a knee, held up a banner against the gesture for equality, fought with police in the stands, and released a flare when they scored. One arrest was made for a racially aggravated public order offence following comments made towards a steward.
Hungary had seen their own chances of reaching Qatar diminish since losing to England, with Albania beating them home and away, but their draw at Wembley means Group I leaders England realistically need to beat Albania at Wembley on November 12 before their final group game against minnows San Marino.
Andorra won the battle of the bottom two in Group I with a 3-0 victory in San Marino - their first away win in 16 attempts and their biggest-ever international victory.
Lyndon Dykes rescued Scotland with a dramatic late winner against the Faroe Islands to put Steve Clarke's side within 90 minutes of a World Cup qualifying play-off spot.
The Scots travelled to Torshavn on a high after a terrific 3-2 win over Israel at Hampden Park on Saturday, but the visitors found it all a bit of a struggle.
However, but with four minutes of normal time remaining a cross from substitute Nathan Patterson came off Dykes and ended up in the net and after what seemed like an eternity while Slovenian referee Matej Jug checked for handball, the goal was awarded for a crucial 1-0 win.
Scotland need three points from their final two Group F fixtures next month, the first of which is a trip to section makeweights Moldova before the final game at home to runaway group winners Denmark, who sealed top spot to become the third side to reach Qatar 2022 with a 1-0 victory over Austria, sealed by Joakim Maehle's second-half strike.
Elsewhere, Israel bounced back from Saturday's last-gasp defeat to Scotland as Eran Zahavi and Mu'nas Dabbur struck to secure a 2-1 win over 10-man Moldova.
A bad week for Northern Ireland got worse on Tuesday night as two crisp Todor Nedelev strikes saw Bulgaria come from behind to win 2-1 in Sofia.
Conor Washington's sixth international goal had given Ian Baraclough's side a half-time lead as they looked to have responded well to Saturday's controversial 2-0 defeat in Switzerland which effectively ended World Cup qualifying hopes, but it all went wrong after the break.
Bulgarian boss Yasen Petrov shuffled his pack at half-time and got the rewards, although Nedelev took the credit as he beat Bailey Peacock-Farrell in fine fashion twice in 11 minutes to turn things around just after the hour.
It made for more frustration for Baraclough, who had finally built some positive momentum last month but has seen things unravel quickly in the last week, the Qatar dream now definitively dead.
Elsewhere, Switzerland ended Bulgaria's qualification hopes with a 4-0 victory in Lithuania.
Breel Embolo's double and strikes from Renato Steffen and Mario Gavranovic secured the emphatic victory which moved the Swiss level on 14 points with Group C leaders Italy and out of the reach of Bulgaria, who sit in third on eight points.
It means European champions Italy go into next month's meeting with Switzerland in Rome ahead only on goal difference as the two sides battle it out for top spot.
Sweden climbed above Spain into first place in Group B with a 2-0 win over Greece, thanks to second-half strikes from Emil Forsberg and Alexander Isak.
Sweden's win sets up a thrilling finale in the group, with the Swedes leading Spain by two points with two games left for each, one of which is a meeting between the countries in Spain on Matchday 10.
Teemu Pukki became Finland's record scorer by netting both goals in a 2-0 win at Kazakhstan.
The Norwich striker's double took him onto 33 international goals, one more than Finland legend Jari Litmanen.
The victory leaves Finland third in Group D, a point behind Ukraine, who drew 1-1 with Bosnia-Herzegovina, and four behind leaders France.