Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski hit hat-tricks in qualifiers

Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski hit hat-tricks in qualifiers

Portugal overcome Armenia; Germany thrash Gibraltar

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 2:38 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:52 PM

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo gestures after scoring the second goal. — AP

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo gestures after scoring the second goal. — AP

Paris: Yet another Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick propelled Portugal to a crucial 3-2 win in Armenia in Euro 2016 qualifying on Saturday while Poland’s Robert Lewandowski hit one of the quickest triples in the competition’s history.

Andre Schuerrle also bagged a hat trick in Germany’s 7-0 thrashing of Gibraltar but former European champions Greece’s embarrassing campaign continued as they were beaten 2-1 in the Faroe Islands. Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo scored his third hat trick in his last three games for club and country as Portugal held on with 10 men for the final half-hour in Yerevan to claim a crucial win in Group I.

Brazilian-born Marcos Pizzelli gave Armenia the lead but Ronaldo equalised from the penalty spot before adding two more in the space of four second-half minutes.

Fernando Santos’ side then had Tiago Mendes, the Atletico Madrid midfielder, sent off and were left to hang on after Hrayr Mkoyan pulled a goal back for the hosts.

Portugal have now won four games in a row since starting their campaign with a 1-0 home defeat to Albania and they top Group I by two points from Denmark, who beat Serbia 2-0 in Copenhagen thanks to a goal in each half from Yussuf Poulsen and Jakob Poulsen. Poland remain top of Group D ahead of World Cup holders Germany after Lewandowski’s late hat trick sealed a 4-0 win against Georgia in Warsaw. Arkadiusz Milik put the Poles in front before captain Lewandowski doubled their lead in the 89th minute. The Bayern Munich striker added another in the 92nd minute and completed a remarkable treble in the third minute of stoppage time to secure a handsome win.

It is the second-fastest hat trick in the history of European Championship qualifying, bettered only by Arif Erdem, who scored three in three minutes for Turkey against Northern Ireland in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2000.

Poland are a point clear of Germany, who won 7-0 against minnows Gibraltar in Faro, southern Portugal, despite Bastian Schweinsteiger having an early penalty saved.

Schuerrle set them on their way and six more goals followed in the second half, including two more from the Wolfsburg forward, a brace from Max Kruse and one each for Ilkay Gundogan and Karim Bellarabi.

Scotland remain third, two points better off than the Republic of Ireland, after coming from behind to draw 1-1 in Dublin, Shaun Maloney’s shot deflecting in off home skipper John O’Shea to cancel out Jon Walters’ opener for Ireland.

The prospect of seeing all four British sides qualify together for a major tournament for the first time since the 1958 World Cup remains a very real one, with Northern Ireland still second in Group F after a 0-0 draw to Romania.

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