PARIS:France thrashed Holland 4-0 with the help of goals from Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe as they edged closer to qualification for next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
Lemar scored twice – the first of them a stunning volley from the edge of the box – on a day when Arsenal were reported to have bid £92million for him, while Mbappe rounded off an incredible day for him with Les Bleus’ fourth in a 15-minute cameo appearance.
Mbappe had earlier completed a season-long loan move from Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain on transfer deadline day which is expected to culminate in a £166m deal next summer.
Atletico Madrid frontman Antoine Griezmann gave France a first-half lead against the lacklustre Dutch, who had Kevin Strootman sent off in the second half at 1-0, and Didier Deschamps’ men now head Group A by three points with three games to go.
Sweden, who started the night level on points with France, lost 3-2 to Bulgaria, who maintained their 100 per cent home record in the qualifiers.
Sweden fought back twice to be level at the break with goals from Mikael Lustig and Marcus Berg, but Ivaylo Chochev’s 79th-minute strike proved to be the winner for the hosts, who are now right back in qualification contention themselves. Luxembourg beat Belarus 1-0 in the other game in the group.
Switzerland are assured of at least a play-off place after they completed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Group B minnows Andorra.
Haris Seferovic scored twice for the Swiss (43, 62) before Stephan Lichtsteiner made sure with a third in the 68th minute.
Portugal are almost secure in the top two as well after Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s fifth international hat-trick earned them a 5-1 win over the Faroe Islands.
West Ham target William Carvalho and Norwich forward Nelson Oliveira were also on target for the European champions.
Hungary‘s 3-1 win over Latvia keeps them in with a slim chance of deposing Portugal in second place, with Tamas Kadar and Adam Szalai on target and Aleksandrs Solovjovs scoring an own goal.
Belgium moved six points clear at the top of Group H as they hammered Gibraltar 9-0 despite playing 50 minutes with 10 men after Axel Witsel was sent off.
Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and Thomas Meunier both scored hat-tricks, with Dries Mertens, Witsel and Eden Hazard also on target.
Greece were held to a goalless draw at home by Estonia to slip further behind the Belgians, while Cyprus recovered from two goals down to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-2 with Pieros Sotiriou netting the winner in the 76th minute.
They now sit just one point behind the third-placed Bosnians and only three behind the Greeks.