UEFA WCQ roundup: Sweden defeats France; Ronaldo, Portugal cruise

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Tensions are high as World Cup qualifying continues throughout Europe and the rest of the world but on Friday it was UEFA’s turn to see which teams would draw closer to Russia 2018.

[ MORE: Giroud scores outrageous volley in France’s draw with Sweden ]

In Group A, Sweden had the day they hoped for a critical win over France at Friends Arena, moving the nation to the top of Group A. Hugo Lloris‘ late blunder cost Les Bleus a share of the points and handed the Swedes a 2-1 win. Things went the way of the Netherlands as the Oranje picked up a decisive 5-0 win at home against Luxembourg, propelling them to third play.

Meanwhile, Belarus pulled off an upset against Bulgaria, which was a great chance missed by the latter to move up in the table.

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to put the entire world on notice after netting a brace for Portugal on Friday in their 3-0 win over Latvia. Ronaldo and Co. remain second though in Group B after Switzerland kept its perfect record alive with a comfortable victory against the Faroe Islands.

Belgium and Greece both remain unbeaten in Group H with four matches left in qualifying, and after Friday’s win the Red Devils have pulled very close to reaching next summer’s World Cup after earning their fifth win.

Here are all the results from Friday’s UEFA World Cup qualifying action.

Group A

Belarus 2-1 Bulgaria
Netherlands 5-0 Luxembourg
Sweden 2-1 France

Group B

Andorra 1-0 Hungary
Faroe Islands 0-2 Switzerland
Latvia 0-3 Portugal

Group H

Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-0 Greece
Estonia 0-2 Belgium
Gibraltar 1-2 Cyprus

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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Long-term absentee Santi Cazorla will leave Arsenal

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Santi Cazorla hasn’t played a match for the Gunners since suffering a gruesome Achilles injury back in October 2016.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Spanish Chelsea trio ]

And unfortunately for the Spaniard, Cazorla won’t feature for Arsenal again after six years at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal released a statement on Monday revealing the veteran midfielder won’t return to the club in 2018/19, which isn’t unexpected given the extent of his injury.

In his time with the Gunners, Cazorla made 180 appearances in all competitions for the club, and helped Arsenal win two FA Cups.

Cazorla was also a member of the Spanish national team squads that won back-to-back UEFA EURO competitions in 2008 and 2012.

Wolfsburg keeps Bundesliga spot with playoff win

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Wolfsburg managed a 1-0 win (4-1 on aggregate) over Holstein Kiel on Monday in the second leg of its German promotion playoff as the Bundesliga side kept its place in the top flight.

Robin Knoche scored the game-winner in the second leg, which ensured Wolfsburg’s stay in the Bundesliga ahead of the 2017/18 season.

The hosts boasted a number of quality chances in the first half, including David Kinsombi’s close-range shot that tested Wolfsburg keeper Koen Casteels with a save, however, Holstein couldn’t break through.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender John Brooks went the full 90 minutes for Wolfsburg, after the 25-year-old made nine starts this season for the German side in league play.