Cristiano Ronaldo inspires Portugal to thrash Lithuania as Olivier Giroud saves France from humiliation



Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo scored another treble, moving closer to 100 international goals, as he led the European champions to a 6-0 drubbing of Lithuania in a Euro 2020 qualifier on Thursday.

Ronaldo, whose hat-trick was the 55th of his career and ninth for Portugal, has 98 goals and could become only the second player to score a century for his country after Iran’s Ali Daei.

Pizzi, Goncalo Paciencia and Bernardo Silva shared the other goals in the one-sided Group B match.

The European champions, however, were left waiting to secure a place at the finals after Serbia beat Luxembourg 3-2.

Portugal are in second place with 14 points, one ahead of Serbia, and will qualify if they win in Luxembourg on Sunday. Leaders Ukraine have already qualified.

Olivier Giroud scored the winning goal from the penalty spot as France beat Moldova 2-1 on Thursday to move ahead of Turkey in their European Championship qualifying group.

Giroud confidently smacked the spot kick into the left corner in the 79th minute after left back Lucas Digne was tripped running onto a return pass from Kylian Mbappe. It moved Giroud onto 39 international goals and just two behind Michel Platini in France’s all-time scorers’ list, which Thierry Henry tops with 51.

France had already qualified for Euro 2020 earlier Thursday because Iceland drew 0-0 at Turkey, guaranteeing France and Turkey the top two positons in Group H. France is two points ahead of Turkey and completes its qualifying away to Albania on Sunday.

Czech Republic punched their ticket to Euro 2020 by coming from behind to beat Kosovo 2-1 as Alex Kral scored one goal and set up another to give the hosts second spot in Group A on Thursday.

Ronaldo celebrates as Portugal run riot vs Lithuania (AP)

The Czechs dominated possession but failed to convert their chances in the first half before falling behind when striker Atdhe Nuhiu scored against the run of play in the 50th minute.

But the home side roared back and levelled in the 71st minute when midfielder Kral pounced on a loose ball and unleashed a fierce strike that gave the Kosovo keeper no chance.

The goal energised the Czechs who hit the woodwork twice in quick succession before 21-year-old Kral directed a header towards Ondrej Celustka who guided the ball home in the 79th.

The Czechs, who play Bulgaria on Sunday, have 15 points and will finish second in the group behind England who have 18 after thrashed Montenegro 7-0 at Wembley to secure runners-up spot.



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