UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap: France comes back through Pogba, Payet

AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Germany, France, England, and Poland strengthened their cases for automatic berths into World Cup 2018 with victories in UEFA qualifying on Friday.

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France 1-2 Sweden

The French came from behind to take this one, after Emil Forsberg put Sweden in front with a 54th minute free kick. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba made it 1-1 just three minutes later, and West Ham’s Dimitri Payet put France ahead as Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen failed to claim a cross in somewhat comical fashion. Payet jabbed a shot inside the far post to give France its first lead in the 65th minute.

England 3-0 Scotland

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The visitors wasted what few chances they had, with Grant Hanley, Leigh Griffiths, and Robert Snodgrass each missing prime opportunities to produce goals while England took theirs well. Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, and Gary Cahill all scored through headers, and England remains on pace to win a fairly ho-hum qualifying group. Scotland is now six points back of first place England, and four back of a second place playoff spot.

Armenia 3-2 Montenegro

Gevorg Ghazaryan scored in the third minute of stoppage time to complete a stunning comeback. Stevan Jovetic‘s 38th minute goal had given the visitors a 2-0 halftime lead, but the Armenians battled back to level the match by the 74th minute. That set the stage for Ghazaryan. Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan went 90 minutes for the victors.

San Marino 0-8 Germany

Ex-Arsenal man and 2016 Olympics star Serge Gnabry made a big impact for Germany in his first senior cap, netting thrice in a big road win. Germany now has a five-point lead on its closest competitors, Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan, in the race for an automatic spot in Russia 2018.

Czech Republic 2-1 Norway
Northern Ireland 4-0 Azerbaijan
Denmark 4-1 Kazakhstan
Romania 0-3 Poland
Malta 0-1 Slovenia
Slovakia 4-0 Lithuania