World Cup qualifying goals glut in Europe

·3-min read

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored his first goal of Portugal's World Cup qualifying campaign as the European champions fought back from a goal down to avoid embarrassment with a 3-1 defeat of Luxembourg.

In other action, Belgium and the Netherlands racked up 15 unanswered goals between them to crush Belarus and Gibraltar respectively while Croatia, Serbia, Wales and minnows Cyprus were among the other winners.

Luxembourg, who opened their qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022 with a surprise win over Ireland, looked on their way to another shock result when Gerson Rodrigues put the hosts ahead in the 30th minute.

However, Diogo Jota equalised on the stroke of halftime before Ronaldo and Joao Palhinha added second-half goals to secure the three points.

Ronaldo's 103rd international goal moved him within six of Ali Daei's all-time record for Iran and helped Portugal to three crucial points after they - Ronaldo in particular - had been enraged at having a late winner at Serbia not awarded given on Saturday.

Portugal and Serbia, who defeated Azerbaijan 2-1 courtesy of a double from their record goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, top qualifying Group A on seven points from three games.

Belgium took control of Group E after their 8-0 thrashing of Belarus, despite using mainly a second-string line-up.

Leandro Trossard and Hans Vanaken scored twice apiece for the Belgians while there were also goals for Michy Batshuayi, Jeremy Doku, Dennis Praet and Christian Benteke.

Belgium are three points ahead of the Czech Republic after the latter lost 1-0 to Wales.

Both sides were down to 10 men, with Patrik Schick sent off for the Czechs and Connor Roberts for Wales, when Daniel James headed in Gareth Bale's cross in the 81st minute.

Gibraltar were hit for seven by the Netherlands in Group G.

It was only 1-0 at halftime, Steven Berghuis netting in the 41st minute, but the goals flew in after the break, including three in four minutes.

Memphis Depay scored twice while Luuk de Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum, Donyell Malen and Donny van de Beek were also on the scoresheet.

The Dutch are one point behind Turkey, who were held to a 3-3 draw by Latvia despite leading twice by two goals.

Norway sit level on points with the Dutch after Alexander Sorloth scored the only goal of their 1-0 victory over Montenegro.

Things are tight at the top of Group H after victories for Slovakia and Croatia.

Slovakia were 2-1 winners over Russia.

Milan Skriniar put the hosts ahead but Mario Fernandes looked like he might have claimed a point for Russia when he equalised in the 71st minute, only for Robert Mak to grab the winner.

Croatia were 3-0 winners over Malta with second-half substitutes Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric and Josip Brekalo on target to force the rugged visitors into submission.

Ioannis Pittas scored the only goal as Cyprus claimed a shock 1-0 victory over Slovenia.