World Cup qualifying
Fri, 06/10/17, 09:51
Record-breaker Lewy almost there
Robert Lewandowski's hat-trick in Poland's 6-1victory over Armenia means the FC Bayern hitman is now his country's all-time top scorer with 50 full international goals, surpassing previous record holder Wlodzimierz Lubanski (48). The 29-year-old's triple strike also means the Poles are as good as guaranteed a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. With one game to play, Poland lead Group E on 22 points and a draw at home to Montenegro in Warsaw at 18:00 CEST on Sunday would see them home and dry as group winners.
The Poles roared off the blocks in Yeveran and opened through Kamil Grosicki after just two minutes, before Lewandowski struck with a direct free-kick on 18 minutes and a powerful right-footed drive seven minutes later. Hovhannes Hambardzumyan pulled one back six minutes before half-time, but Jakub Blaszczykowski (58), Lewandowski with his third of the night (64) and Rafal Wolski (89) completed the emphatic victory in the second period.
Drama in South America
In South American qualifying, the battle for World Cup places is heating up. Copa America winners Chile and Bayern’s Arturo Vidal moved up to third in the standings with a 2-1 win over Ecuador on Thursday. Eduardo Vargas’s opening goal for the hosts was cancelled out late on by Romario Ibarras, but Alexis Sanches quickly restored the lead in the 85th minute to earn the three points for Chile.
James Rodriguez and Colombia suffered a setback in their home game against Paraguay. A 2-1 defeat has put their World Cup place in doubt ahead of their final qualifier in Peru on Wednesday. After a goalless first half, Radamel Falcao put the Colombians ahead in the 79th minute but two late goals from Oscar Cardozo and Antonio Sanabria turned the game around for the visitors.
The top four in the South American section qualify directly for the finals in Russia. Going into the final round of fixtures, only record World Cup winners Brazil on 38 points are guaranteed of their place. Uruguay (28), Chile (26), Colombia (26), Peru (25) and Argentina (25) are battling for the remaining places, while Paraguay (24) also still have an outside chance of qualifying.