FIFA World Cup qualifiers: Cristiano Ronaldo helps Portugal overtake Luxembourg and Belgium in Thrash Belarus
Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal secure a 3-1 victory over Luxembourg on Tuesday with their first goal of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign, while Belgium became the latest team to join protests for rights man in Qatar before hitting Belarus eight times. Juventus striker Ronaldo scored his 103rd international goal five minutes after the break to prevent his side from falling prey to a Luxembourg side whose recent performances have challenged their small status and small population. Ronaldo had been controversial against what appeared to have been an overtime winner in Saturday’s draw against Serbia in Belgrade, but that couldn’t be denied when he hit Joao Cancelo’s cross.
Luxembourg beat Republic of Ireland last time around and another shock result seemed possible when Gerson Rodrigues put the hosts in the lead with a header thrown half an hour into the Group A match at Josy Barthel Stadium.
Diogo Jota tied the European champions in the first half stoppage time with a close-range header on his own, finding himself undercover to wave to Pedro Neto’s cross.
Ronaldo put Portugal in the lead, then Joao Palhinha added a third to save Portugal’s blushes and put them in the lead, tied at seven points with Serbia, who won 2-1 over Azerbaijan earlier on Tuesday thanks to to a double from Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Ronaldo, 36, is now six goals short of Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time record 109 international strikes.
“The goal before half-time came at the worst possible time,” said Luxembourg coach Luc Holtz.
“This is the turning point because I would have liked to come back to the locker room at 1-0. After that, the individual quality made the difference.”
– Belgium joins the protests in Qatar –
The Belgian players donned t-shirts to help migrant workers build the stadiums for next year’s final in the Gulf state, then beat Belarus 8-0 to climb to the top of Group E despite coach Roberto Martinez playing one side of the second string.
Germany, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands have recently organized similar protests, and the Belgian gesture mirrors that of their Dutch neighbors with t-shirts bearing the message “Football supports change”.
Human rights groups have criticized the treatment of migrant workers, Qatar disputes claim.
On the pitch in Leuven, Belgium facilitated the work of their opponents, Michy Batshuayi starting a flood of goals in the 14th minute.
Two accolades from Hans Vanaken and Leandro Trossard – Brighton’s first winger for his country – and new strikes from Jeremy Doku, Dennis Praet and Christian Benteke gave Belgium a landslide victory.
That leaves them three points ahead of second-placed Czech Republic after losing 1-0 to Wales in Cardiff in a game that ended with 10 men on each side.
– The Dutch are getting closer to Turkey –
The Netherlands narrowed the gap with Group G leaders Turkey to one point after their 7-0 victory in Gibraltar.
Frank de Boer’s side were far from their best, but got the maximum points after taking a long time to break through their minnow opponents, who were playing in front of a home crowd thanks to the successful vaccine program against the Gilbraltar coronavirus.
Steven Berghuis opened the scoring three minutes before the break and in the second half, the Dutch managed to assert their superiority.
Luuk de Jong made two with a tap-in in the 55th minute, then three goals in as many minutes for Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Donyell Malen to put the Dutch in the lead five.
Donny van de Beek hit home the sixth from close range before Depay added his second of the night to complete the scoring two minutes from time.
They are getting closer to the Turks, who beat the Netherlands in the group’s opening round match, thanks to a late strike from Davis Ikaunieks that helped Latvia draw 3-3 in Istanbul.
The Dutch are tied on six points with Norway and Montenegro, who lost 1-0 at home to the Norwegians.
Croatia took the lead in Group H with a 3-0 victory over Malta. They are tied on six points with Russia, which lost 2-1 to Slovakia.
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