Haaland keeps Norway alive; Ronaldo marks 200th cap with match-winner

Sports Desk, Jun 20 (EFE).- Erling Haaland scored twice in four minutes Tuesday to power Norway over Cyprus in the fourth round of qualifiers for the 2024 European Championships, while Cristiano Ronaldo produced a late winner against Iceland to celebrate his 200th appearance for Portugal.

And dark horse Scotland beat Georgia to improve to 12 points from four matches, equaling France, England, and Portugal.

The game in Reykjavik was scoreless in the 89th minute when Ronaldo, 38, conjured a goal that survived a protracted VAR review to give Portugal the victory against the hosts, who went down to 10 men with 10 minutes left after Willum Thor Willumson picked up a second yellow card.

The record-extending 123rd international goal for the five-time Ballon d’Or kept Portugal top of Group J, 2 points better than Slovakia, 1-0 winners Tuesday over Liechtenstein, and 5 ahead of surprising Luxembourg, who won 2-0 away to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Norway, who came into Tuesday’s contest still looking for their first victory, grabbed the lead in the 12th minute with a goal by Ola Solbakken.

Haaland added a brace in the second half – the first from the penalty spot – before Grigoris Kastanos scored a consolation goal for Cyprus in stoppage time.

The Manchester City striker has scored 56 goals for club and country in the 2022-2023 campaign, surpassing the likes of Kylian Mbappe (54), Harry Kane (40), and World Cup winner Lionel Messi (38).

Though welcome, the triumph in Oslo leaves Norway third in Group A with 4 points, the same as Georgia but with a worse goal difference.

Leading the group are Scotland, who prevailed 2-0 against the Georgians at a rain-soaked Hampden Park in Glasgow. Callum McGregor put the home side ahead in the 6th minute, seconds before play was suspended due to the accumulation of water on the pitch.

What was supposed to be a 20-minute delay extended for more than an hour.

The score remained 1-0 at the break, but Scott McTominay doubled the lead for Scotland in the 47th minute with his fifth goal of the qualifiers. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia fired over the cross-bar in stoppage time after Georgia were awarded a penalty for hand ball.

Belgium, minus starting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, dominated Estonia 3-0 to improve to 7 points, enough for second place in Group F behind Austria, who have 10 points from four games after topping Sweden 2-0 Tuesday in Vienna.

Both the Red Devils and third-place Switzerland have a game in hand on the Austrians.

Arkadiusz Milik and Robert Lewandowski staked Poland to a 2-0 advantage over Moldova in Chisinau, but the hosts came back to win 3-2 to move up to third in Group E with 5 points, 2 ahead of the Poles and just 2 behind leaders Czechia.

EFE apa/dr

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