Deadline Day has dominated the headlines, but a megastar and several potential superstars are burying goals in UEFA World Cup qualifying.
Kylian Mbappe has scored.
Thomas Lemar has two.
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Romelu Lukaku and Thomas Meunier have three.
So does Cristiano Ronaldo, who rode his hat trick past Pele of all people.
Toss in a massive shot to the Netherlands’ World Cup hopes and a major surprise in Cyprus, and you’ve got one wild day of qualifying.
France 4-0 Netherlands
Antoine Griezmann scored a 14th minute goal, then leapt into the air to get Kevin Strootman sent off for a second half second yellow, and Les Bleus took advantage of the man advantage to the tune of a Thomas Lemar brace and Kylian Mbappe blast.
The Dutch World Cup qualifying hopes are very slim now. With three matches to play, the Netherlands are six points back of the automatic qualifying spot from Group A, three back of the playoff spot held by Sweden, and two points behind third place Bulgaria. Chances to make up three points on Sweden and Bulgaria remain, as well as a match against Belarus.
Back to Lemar, who reportedly turned down a massive dollar deal to join Arsenal because he wants to play in the UEFA Champions League, well, this:
Bulgaria 3-2 Sweden
Sweden entered the day leading Group A, and twice answered Bulgarian goals to leave the match 2-2 at the break. Ivaylo Chochev scored in the 79th minute to spring Bulgaria into third place, within a point of now second-place Sweden.
Portugal 5-1 Faroe Islands
If you’re going to pass Pele on a record list, do it in style. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick to land him on 78 international goals, one ahead of Pele for seventh all-time. That’s second in European history to legendary Hungarian finisher Ferenc Puskas (84 goals) but 45 goals behind the all-time leader, Kuwait’s Bashar Abdullah.
Portugal is three points behind first-placed Switzerland, and their Oct. 10 finale could decide which team goes directly to Russia, and who needs a playoff win to move on.
Cyprus 3-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina
A 2-0 halftime lead on the road was not enough for BNH, which allowed three goals in 11 second-half minutes. Recording goals were Dimitris Christofi (65th minute), Vincent Laban (67′), and Pieros Sotiriou (76′) giving a surprise win to the hosts.
Cyprus is a point behind third-placed BNH and still plays second-place Greece and leaders Belgium, as well as Estonia.
Belgium 9-0 Gibraltar
Thomas Meunier and Romelu Lukaku both recorded hat tricks for the Red Devils, and Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens, and Eden Hazard also scored in the blowout. Belgium can clinch a World Cup berth with a win over second-placed Greece on Sept. 3.
Switzerland 3-0 Andorra — Swiss will finish no worse than 2nd.
Luxembourg 1-0 Belarus
Hungary 3-1 Latvia
Greece 0-0 Estonia