Cap- Portugal's players celebrate their team's second goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 Group B qualifier match against Switzerland at the Luz Stadium in Lisbon on October 10. -AFP
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 stuttering campaign, France's achievement in beating Bulgaria and Belarus in their final two qualifiers means they avoid the playoffs having had to go through that route for the last two finals.
"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. The Dutch, World Cup finalists in South Africa in 2010 and semi-finalists four years later, bowed to the inevitable as they failed to achieve the unlikely 7-0 scoreline over Sweden they needed to salvage a wretched qualifying effort.
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