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England, Portugal, France hammer Euro minnows

The Associated Press

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, right, is challenged by Lithuania’s Saulius Mikoliunas during their Euro 2020 qualifying match in Vilnius on Tuesday.

AFP PARIS (AFP-Jiji) — England and Portugal both scored five goals while France scored three as they all swept past low-ranked opponents in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.

Ronaldo, making his 160nd international appearance, scored four as Portugal won 5-1 over Lithuania in Vilnius and strengthened its position in Group B after a sluggish start.

For Ronaldo, it was a second hat-trick in three internationals. The victory over Lithuania, 130th in the world rankings, brought Portugal five points behind group-leader Ukraine.

Portugal, which opened the group with home draws against Ukraine and Serbia, started its recovery with a victory in Belgrade on Saturday. The Portuguese have a game in hand on all the other teams in the group.

“We were better, we are better, and we won because of it,” said Fernando Santos, the Portugal coach. “We kept the pace after the win at Serbia, otherwise this triumph would make no sense, and we are closer.”

Vytautas Andriuskevicius scored the hosts’ only goal before William Carvalho added a fifth for the reigning champions at the end.

Serbia beat Luxembourg 3-1, as Aleksandar Mitrovic netted twice, to solidify its grasp on third place, a point behind Portugal.

In Southampton, Gareth Southgate’s England side trailed early on to Kosovo, ranked 120th in the world, when Valon Berisha scored after 34 seconds. England replied with a first-half goal binge that ended with Jadon Sancho scoring twice to make it 5-1 at the break.

The visitors claimed two back in the second half, including a second for Lazio midfielder Berisha, but the 5-3 victory put England three points clear in Group A ahead of second-place Czech Republic, which beat Montenegro 3-0.

“A bizarre game,” said Southgate. “The outstanding parts of our play were obvious. The errors were obvious.”

In Paris, the world champions made light work of beating 136th-ranked Andorra 3-0 to stay tied with Turkey in Group H on 15 points. It was Les Bleus’ 100th match at the Stade de France.

Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty for his country for the second game running but Kinglsey Coman, Clement Lenglet and Wissam Ben Yedder clinched the three points.

“It is really annoying. I’ll just need to keep working. You can’t be on top of your game all the time,” Griezmann said.

Coman also scored two against Albania on Saturday.

Cenk Tosun scored twice as Turkey beat Moldova with ease in a 4-0 victory in Chisinau. But Iceland, which had been level with the top two, suffered a blow by losing 4-2 in Albania.

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