Robben's World Cup hopes suffer blow

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Arjen Robben and the Dutch national team’s participation in next year’s World Cup is looking doubtful. The Oranje were beaten 2-0 by Bulgaria in Sofia on Saturday evening in the fifth round of European qualifiers and are now fourth in group A following back-to-back defeats. France top the group on 13 points with Sweden (10) and Bulgaria (9) behind them.

Having already missed out on last year’s European Championships, Dutch hopes were pinned on Robben, who has been in good form for FC Bayern recently and who was expected to lead the World Cup runners-up from 2010 into the 2018 finals. However Spas Delev put paid to the visitors’ plans with two goals in the 5th and 20th minute to give Bulgaria the three points. Robben played the whole match.

Renato Sanches was an unused substitute in Portugal’s comfortable 3-0 win against Hungary. Andre Silva (32) and Cristiano Ronaldo (36’ and 65’) scored the goals for the European champions in front of 57,817 supporters in Lisbon. The victory consolidated Portugal’s position in second in group B, three points behind leaders Switzerland. Hungary are now five points behind the play-off place.

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