Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals, including two in the first five minutes, to lead European champions Portugal to a 6-0 win over nine-man Andorra in their World Cup qualifier on Friday.
It was the Portugal captain’s fourth hat-trick or his country and the first time he has scored four in an international, taking his tally to 65 goals in 134 appearances.
The win got Portugal off the mark in Group B after a shock 2-0 defeat away to Switzerland in their opening game last month when Ronaldo was missing through injury.
However, they are still three points behind Switzerland, who won 3-2 in Hungary, and also trail the Faroe Islands, who have four points after winning 2-0 in Latvia.
Andorra’s Jordi Rubio was dismissed in the 62nd minute and Marc Rebes followed nine minutes later, both for fouling Ronaldo.
“We knew that the first goal would be really important against a team which puts 11 players behind the ball,” said Ronaldo.
“I know I am important as are all the other players. I have always given everything for the national team, I feel useful and I’m happy to be back after that injury in the European championship. There are eight games to go and we want to win all eight to go to the World Cup.”
Ronaldo, who had limped off during the Euro 2016 final win over France, opened his account after 73 seconds, driving the ball home after Andorra failed to clear a corner, and then headed home Ricardo Quaresma’s cross in the fourth minute.
Jose Fonte was brilliantly denied by Andorra goalkeeper Josep Gomes, Andre Silva hit the bar and Ronaldo was close with another header before Joao Cancelo added a third in the 44th.
Ronaldo completed his hat-trick two minutes after halftime when he volleyed in Andre Gomes’ cross and scored his fourth in the 68th after Fonte headed Quaresma’s cross into his path.
France produced a scintillating show as they put memories of one of the most painful moments in their soccer history to one side by crushing Bulgaria 4-1 in a World Cup Group A qualifier on Friday.
Les Bleus had not hosted Bulgaria since an infamous qualifier in November 1993 when they conceded a late goal to lose 2-1, a defeat that meant they missed out on a place at the following year’s World Cup in the United States.
The home side trailed again at the Stade de France on Friday after conceding an early penalty but bounced back by taking control of the midfield and breaching a porous defence almost at will.
Goals from Kevin Gameiro, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann put them 3-1 up at the break.
Gameiro, stylishly celebrating his first international for five years, then completed the scoring with his second goal of the night in the 59th minute.
France, with four points from two games, are joint top of the group alongside Netherlands and Sweden. Bulgaria occupy fourth position on three points.
The visitors went ahead against the run of play in the sixth minute, Mihail Aleksandrov converting from the spot after Georgi Milanov was fouled by Bacary Sagna.
Right back Sagna made amends with a perfect cross for Gameiro who levelled with a bullet of a diving header after 23 minutes.
Payet made it 2-1 three minutes later with a cross-shot from out on the left that eluded everyone in the box.
Griezmann then exploited a defensive blunder to race into the area unchallenged and add the third goal.
France’s fourth goal was arguably their best, Layvin Kurzawa showing off his skills down the left before Griezmann set up Atletico Madrid team mate Gameiro to fire home from close range.
“It was a perfect night,” said the two-goal forward. “We were able to react and then to stamp our authority on the game. I felt a lot of pride.”
The fact Gameiro and Griezmann combined excellently throughout was one of the keys to France’s convincing victory.
“We both play our game and it works out well,” Gameiro said. “Let’s hope it will last.”
Euro 2016 runners-up France, who kicked off their Group A campaign with a dismal 0-0 draw in Belarus, next play Netherlands in Amsterdam on Monday
Andre Silva added the sixth late on with a deflected shot.
Results of all World Cup Qualifying European matches on Friday, October7
Friday, October 7
France 4 Kevin Gameiro 23,59, Dimitri Payet 26, Antoine Griezmann 38
Bulgaria 1 Mihail Aleksandrov 6pen
Halftime: 3-1;Attendance: 70,000
– – –
Red Card: Kevin Malget 82
Sweden 1 Mikael Lustig 58
Halftime: 0-0;Attendance: 5,057
– – –
Netherlands 4 Quincy Promes 15,31, Davy Klaassen 55, Vincent Janssen 64
Belarus 1 Aleksey Rios 47
Halftime: 2-0;Attendance: 41,200
– – –
Hungary 2 Adam Szalai 53,71
Switzerland 3 Haris Seferovic 51, Ricardo Rodriguez 67, Valentin Stocker 89
Halftime: 0-0;Attendance: 22,000
– – –
Faroe Islands 2 Sonni Nattestad 19, Johan Simun Edmundsson 70
Halftime: 0-1;Attendance: 4,823
– – –
Portugal 6 Cristiano Ronaldo 2,4,47,68, Joao Cancelo 44, Andre Silva 86
Red Card: Jordi Rubio 62, Marc Rebes 70
Halftime: 3-0;Attendance: 25,120
– – –
Belgium 4 Emir Spahic 26og, Eden Hazard 28, Toby Alderweireld 60, Romelu Lukaku 79
Halftime: 2-0;Attendance: 45,000
– – –
Greece 2 Kostantinos Mitroglou 12, Petros Mantalos 42
Halftime: 2-0;Attendance: 16,512
– – –
Estonia 4 Mattias Kaeit 47,70, Konstantin Vassiljev 52, Sergei Mosnikov 88
Halftime: 0-0;Attendance: 4,678
– – –
Next Fixtures (GMT):
Saturday, October 8
Azerbaijan v Norway (1600)
Germany v Czech Republic (1845)
Northern Ireland v San Marino (1845)
Armenia v Romania (1600)
Montenegro v Kazakhstan (1600)
Poland v Denmark (1845)
England v Malta (1600)
Scotland v Lithuania (1845)
Slovenia v Slovakia (1845)
Sunday, October 9
Wales v Georgia (1600)
Moldova v Ireland (1845)
Serbia v Austria (1845)
Israel v Liechtenstein (1600)
Albania v Spain (1845)
Macedonia v Italy (1845)
Finland v Croatia (1600)
Ukraine v Kosovo (1600)
Iceland v Turkey (1845)
Monday, October 10
Belarus v Luxembourg (1845)
Netherlands v France (1845)
Sweden v Bulgaria (1845)
Andorra v Switzerland (1845)
Faroe Islands v Portugal (1845)
Latvia v Hungary (1845)
Bosnia v Cyprus (1845)
Estonia v Greece (1845)
Gibraltar v Belgium (1845)