Euro qualifiers: Portugal, Poland, Germany notch wins; Faeroe Islands stun Greece

BY foxsports • June 13, 2015

YEREVAN, Armenia -- Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick gave 10-man Portugal a 3-2 win at Armenia in a 2016 European Championship qualifier on Saturday.

Marcos Pizzelli scored from a free kick for Armenia in the 14th minute, but Ronaldo converted a penalty to level before the half-hour mark.

The Ballon d'Or holder scored twice more in the 55th and 58th to secure victory and keep Portugal top of Group I. The treble took Ronaldo's competition record to 26 goals.

Portugal's Tiago Cardoso was sent off with a second yellow card in the 62nd, and Hrayr Mkoyan scored the hosts' second goal 10 minutes later.

"An oddly difficult victory? No. We knew that we would face a good team," Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho said. "Fortunately we have a player like Cristiano, who can decide the match at any moment."

Portugal tops the group with 12 points, while Denmark remained second on 10 after beating Serbia 2-0.

Serbia and Armenia were left at the bottom of the group with one point each. Albania was third with seven points and a game to play.

Armenia went ahead through its only shot on target in the first half when midfielder Pizzelli struck home a free kick from 25 meters (yards) out.

But Ronaldo didn't waste his chance to pull the visitors level in the 29th, firing in a penalty kick after Henrikh Mkhitaryan fouled Moutinho.

Portugal toiled the rest of the way to halftime, and mustered only a shot by Fabio Coentrao, which was saved by goalkeeper Roman Berezovski a minute before the interval.

Ronaldo then scored two more -- first chipping Roman Berezovski before hitting from long range-- to give Portugal the cushion it needed after Mkoyan scored a rebound from Rui Patricio's save.

In Copenhagen, Yussuf Poulsen got his first international goal to put Denmark ahead in the 13th.

Daniel Agger missed a spot kick for Denmark in the 34th, but substitute Jakob Poulsen sealed the win over Serbia three minutes from time.

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GROUP D: Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski's hat trick in the last four minutes boosted Poland to a 4-0 victory over Georgia and control of Group D.

Lewandowski scored in the 89th minute and twice more in stoppage time.

Andre Schuerrle also had a hat trick as World Cup champion Germany stayed second in the group by routing Gibraltar 7-0 in Faro, Portugal.

In Dublin, Scotland rallied to draw with Ireland 1-1.

Jon Walters scored for Ireland just before halftime, then Shaun Maloney's strike was deflected in by John O'Shea just after the break.

Poland has 14 points, one more than Germany. Scotland has 11, Ireland nine, Georgia three, and Gibraltar none.

Germany labored in the first half against the part-timers from Gibraltar, with the match played in Portugal because Gibraltar does not have a suitable stadium.

Bastian Schweinsteiger fluffed a penalty in the 10th, shooting weakly as Gibraltar goalkeeper Jordan Perez dived to his left to save the shot. Perez produced fine saves but Gibraltar also had several chances to score from counterattacks.

Schuerrle put Germany on the scoreboard in the 28th, after Gibraltar defender Ryan Casciaro gave away the ball.

After the break, Germany stepped up the pace and piled on the pressure to score four more inside the first 20 minutes.

Substitute Max Kruse added two goals to Schuerrle's three, and Ilkay Gundogan and Karim Bellarabi also scored for Germany. It was the fourth highest win for Germany in European qualifying.

In Warsaw, the home side went ahead in the 62nd through forward Arkadiusz Milik, who picked up a corner pass and curled a left-foot shot inside the far post from some 22 meters (yards) out.

Poland's victory hung in the balance with Georgia attacking strongly late, and George Navalovsky struck the post.

Lewandowski wasted three big chances in the first half but got it right at the end. He collected a through ball from Milik to score his first, and the next two followed a similar pattern, with Jakub Blaszczykowski and Milik again providing the passes. Lewandowski has seven goals in six qualifying matches.

Ireland scored after a header by Daryl Murphy from a corner was parried by David Marshall, only for the ball to fall kindly for Walters from can't-miss range.

Maloney's equalizer from the edge of the Irish area bounced off the back of O'Shea and in.

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FAEROE ISLANDS STUN GREECE: The Faeroe Islands claimed a second surprise victory over 2004 European champion Greece in qualifying for the 2016 tournament on Saturday as Group F pacesetters Romania and Northern Ireland drew 0-0.

Greece, the world's 25th-best team according to FIFA, remained last in the group after being beaten 2-1 by the 102nd-ranked Faeroe Islands.

Greece's soccer slump comes as the country's government comes under intense pressure from creditors amid bankruptcy fears.

The Faeroes -- with a population of around 50,000 compared with Greece's 11 million -- have never even qualified for a major tournament.

Hallur Hansson and Brandur Olsen, who play for clubs in Denmark, scored for the Faeroes, and Greece's comeback was limited to Sokratis Papastathopoulos' late header.

Greece's 1-0 loss at home to the Faeroes in November led to coach Claudio Ranieri being replaced by Sergio Markarian.

The Faeroes climbed above Finland into fourth place in the six-team group, five points behind Hungary.

Zoltan Stieber gave Hungary a 1-0 victory over Finland to close the gap on second-place Northern Ireland to two points.

The Northern Irish, who have featured at three World Cups, are seeking their first qualification for the Euros and remain a point behind leader Romania.

"There's definitely a sense of disappointment," Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis said in Belfast. "It's a bit of a missed opportunity."

The top two teams are guaranteed a place at the European Championship in France, and most third-place teams will have to go through a playoff.


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