World Cup: France, Portugal, Argentina in, Dutch out
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Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and Antoine Griezmann's France booked spots at the 2018 World Cup finals on Tuesday while the Netherlands crashed out. Portugal beat Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon thanks to a Johan Djourou own goal and an Andre Silva strike.
France needed goals from Griezmann and Olivier Giroud in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Belarus at the Stade de France.
After a campaign that had trouble taking off, France's victory over Bulgaria and Belarus in their final two qualifiers means they won’t have to face playoffs.
"We have had a difficult route and tonight wasn't easy either but we've achieved our aim," coach Didier Deschamps said.
"We are happy, even if qualifying is logical given the quality of the players I have."
Giroud said he was delighted to have avoided the tension of the playoffs.
"We're all relieved tonight to have ended the campaign with automatic qualification," the Arsenal forward said.
Robben quits international football
But the Dutch, World Cup finalists in South Africa in 2010 and semi-finalists four years later, had to beat Sweden 7-0 if they were to proceed.
Arjen Robben scored twice in a 2-0 win over the Swedes in Amsterdam and said afterwards he was retiring from international football.
"I will always remember the 2010 World Cup and 2014. Those are my best memories. During those two competitions we formed a real team," the 33-year-old Robben said.
The Dutch were level with Sweden but, as a result of the Swedish 8-0 victory over Luxemburg, goal count was in favor of the Scandinavians.
Portugal through to playoffs
In Lisbon, Portugal managed to keep Switzerland at bay and become one of the eight European nations who must fight through the playoffs for a spot in Russia.
The others are Italy, Denmark, Croatia, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Greece and the Republic of Ireland.
Ronaldo, who was injured for the opening qualifying defeat in Basel, returned to the Portuguese line-up after coming off the bench to notch up the opening goal in a lacklustre 2-0 win in Andorra on Saturday.
Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia through
And in the Latin American leg of the World Cup preparation matches, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia booked their place at next year's World Cup. Chile was eliminated.
Argentina advanced after a Lionel Messi hat-trick secured a 3-1 win in Ecuador.
Uruguay meanwhile sealed their place in Russia with a 4-2 home win over already-eliminated Bolivia.
And Colombia qualified after a battling 1-1 draw with Peru in Lima.
Peru's draw was good enough to give them a playoff berth which will see them take on New Zealand over two legs for a place in the finals.
For Chile, crushed by Brazil 3-0, the added results meant the end of the road.
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