France Book Russia Spot With Belarus Win

Posted October 13, 2017

Because of the Swedes' excellent goal difference, Holland must win 7-0 to progress to the play-off round.

As long as France win, they advance to the World Cup no matter what else happens in the group.

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1998 World Cup winners France sealed their place in Russian Federation next year with a 2-1 home victory over Belarus. An own goal from Johan Djourou set Portugal on the right track before Andre Silva put the hosts two up before the hour mark. If they draw, though, Sweden can gain that automatic spot instead with a win over the Netherlands, though there's a fair amount of weight on that match as well, with the Netherlands having a slim chance of snagging a playoff spot over Sweden.

Arjen Robben scored both goals - in the 16th minute from the penalty spot and on 40 minutes - before he announced his global retirement post match.

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Thorgan, starting for the first time with his brother, scored the second shortly after half-time, pouncing when goalkeeper Constantinos Panagi could only parry Michy Batshuayi's shot into his path. Robben, 33, had said the World Up would be his last major tournament for the Netherlands if the Oranje made the cut. "It hasn't been an easy decision but I am 33 and now must give my full focus to my club". Fortunately for France, that was one of just five points that Belarus have earned, and they've lost six of eight qualifying matches since then, including getting outscored 8-1 in their last three matches, all losses.

Group H already had a nailed-on victor, Belgium, but Greece's 4-0 win over Gibraltar on Tuesday ensured that they would claim a spot in the playoffs, at the expense of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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