Football: Netherlands in shock defeat, while Cristiano Ronaldo nets 70th goal for Portugal

The Netherlands suffered a major setback in its World Cup Finals hopes, slumping to a shock 2-0 defeat by Bulgaria.
The Netherlands suffered a major setback in its World Cup Finals hopes, slumping to a shock 2-0 defeat by Bulgaria.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The Netherlands' hopes of reaching the World Cup Finals suffered a major setback on Saturday when the three-time runners-up slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat by Bulgaria.

The loss left the Dutch six points behind Group A leaders France, who beat Luxembourg 3-1, and down in fourth spot, three back from Sweden and two off Bulgaria with just the group winners guaranteed a place in the 2018 Finals in Russia.

"What can I tell you? We came here with good intentions, but it has become a nightmare," Dutch skipper Arjen Robben said.

Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo took his international tally to 70 goals as European champions Portugal beat Hungary 3-0 to stay in second spot behind Switzerland in Group B.

Belgium needed a goal two minutes from time by Romelu Lukaku to salvage a 1-1 draw against nine-man Greece as they stayed two points clear in Group H, although Roberto Martinez's team lost their 100 per cent record in the process.

In Sofia, Bulgaria stunned the Dutch with two goals in the first 20 minutes, both coming from Spas Delev. Delev pounced on a mistake by 17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt, the Netherlands' youngest debutant since 1931, who misjudged a pass and allowed the striker to slot the ball past Jeroen Zoet.

Delev then made it 2-0 when he unleashed a stinging right-foot drive past Zoet.

The Dutch dominated large parts of the rest of the game but were thwarted by a solid Bulgarian defence while goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov pulled off a superb save in the second period to deny Davy Klaassen.

Group A table-toppers France, the 1998 champions and Euro 2016 runners-up, saw Olivier Giroud open the scoring in Luxembourg just before the half-hour mark.

Luxembourg levelled after 34 minutes thanks to Aurelien Joachim's penalty, his country's first goal against France in 39 years. But the minnows' joy was short-lived as Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann restored France's lead, also from the spot, just four minutes later.

Arsenal star Giroud scored his second of the evening after 77 minutes after being set up by Benjamin Mendy.

"With us, Olivier often scores goals even if he is having a difficult time with his club. We gave him the crosses and he was very efficient," said France coach Didier Deschamps.

In Lisbon, Portugal saw off Hungary, a team they shared six goals with at Euro 2016. The win kept Portugal in second place in Group B, three points behind Switzerland, who earlier preserved their 100 per cent record with a fifth win in five games, a 1-0 home victory against Latvia.

Porto striker Andre Silva opened the scoring after 30 minutes, converting a pass from Raphael Guerreiro for his fifth goal in six games for Portugal. Six minutes later, skipper Ronaldo doubled the lead with a superb left-footed finish and the Real Madrid superstar made it 3-0 on 65 minutes with a clever free-kick for his 70th international goal.

"We want to go the World Cup so we have to win our next five matches, they are all finals," said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.