Ryan Christie and John McGinn fired a weakened Scotland side to a 2-1 win and a home-and-away double over Cyprus in Euro 2020 qualification on Saturday.

Neither team could progress from Group I following their respective humbling defeats to Russia last month, yet Scotland have a home play-off semi-final to come in March 2020.

They moved above hosts Cyprus into third in the standings here, too, victorious despite the absence of big names Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay and Ryan Fraser.

Christie's first international goal put Scotland ahead after 12 minutes, before Giorgios Efrem equalised and McGinn hit back in the space of six second-half-minutes, seeing Scotland to a second 2-1 win over Cyprus in this campaign.

Cyprus came agonisingly close to opening the scoring inside six minutes as former Rangers winger Efrem smartly worked space inside the area and crashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar.

The ball seemingly bounced over the line but, with no technology to assist the officials, was not awarded as a goal.

There was no stopping the opener that followed at the other end, with Christie darting inside from the right and curling a glorious left-footed effort in from 20 yards.

Even better was to come from Efrem at the start of the second half, however, as he met a half-cleared set-piece with a sweetly struck volley that faded away from David Marshall into the top-right corner.

It proved merely a momentary setback for Scotland and they soon led again through McGinn, meeting Greg Taylor's cross and directing a left-footed finish past Urko Pardo.

Ioannis Kosti should have levelled matters again but sent a stooping header just wide, while Fotios Papoulis was guilty of a glaring stoppage-time miss as Scotland held on.

 

What does it mean? Positives to take into play-offs

Scotland's hopes of reaching Euro 2020 now rest on getting the better of sides of a similar stature in the play-offs, making this victory against Cyprus - also in Nations League C - all the more encouraging. Steve Clarke's men should certainly fancy their chances of reaching the finals if the likes of Robertson and McTominay are able to return next year.

Christie off the mark

Perhaps understandably given the absent stars, Scotland lacked fluidity in possession early on. However, Christie impressed again, netting with a fine strike. His two assists against San Marino last month included a seemingly goal-bound effort that McGinn touched in, but the winger was not be denied a maiden international effort this time.

McKenna off the boil

Scotland had Declan Gallagher making his debut at the heart of the defence, yet Scott McKenna looked the more uncertain of the two centre-backs. McKenna was sold hopelessly by Efrem's dummy prior to the shot that should have seen Cyprus in front, before the Aberdeen man's rash lunge led to the free-kick from which the hosts equalised.

What's next?

This stage of qualification ends for these two sides on Tuesday, as Scotland host Kazakhstan while Cyprus visit Belgium. However, Clarke's side have at least one more match still to come in the play-offs in March.

Liverpool pair Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson have been ruled out of England's final Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo on Sunday.

Gomez, 22, sustained a knock to the knee in training on Friday and will not travel with the rest of Gareth Southgate's squad, an England statement confirmed.

The injury caps a tumultuous few days for the defender, who was involved in a bust-up with Raheem Sterling earlier in the week.

Some fans booed Gomez when he was introduced as a second-half substitute during England's clinical 7-0 win over Montenegro at Wembley.

Southgate and Sterling expressed bewilderment over the treatment of the young centre-back and England will now be without him as the Three Lions wrap up their Group A campaign, having already sealed qualification.

Henderson was not involved against Montenegro after arriving in camp with a viral infection, which has not fully cleared.

"The pair have returned to their club meaning the Three Lions will head to Pristina on Saturday with a 23-man squad," the statement concluded.

Premier League leaders Liverpool will hope to have both players available when their title tilt resumes away to Crystal Palace on November 23.

Gareth Southgate has classed Phil Foden among the "talented players" who can count themselves unlucky to be on the outer for England.

Considered one of the top prospects of his generation, the Manchester City midfielder has been made to wait for a maiden senior call-up as he seeks regular minutes at club level.

Foden, 19, scored for England's Under-21s in a 3-0 win over Albania the day after Southgate's side hammered Montenegro 7-0 at Wembley.

More of the same for City, for whom he has made four substitute appearances in the Premier League this season, could yet catapult the highly rated teenager into selection contention for Euro 2020.

"You know, we're still looking at Foden and thinking that it's a case of when, rather than if, unless something goes wildly off-track for him," Southgate said when assessing his options.

"So, there are some very good players, talented players that weren't in this squad. Obviously, guys that have been with us before like Dele [Alli] as well.

"We have got incredible competition for places, particularly in those attacking five positions."

The sheer number of players blocking Foden's path poses a similar problem to the one he faces at the Etihad Stadium.

Mason Mount, James Maddison, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are among those vying for spots in Southgate's preferred 4-3-3 system.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another in contention to claim a starting berth alongside Jordan Henderson and Harry Winks, who appears to have edged ahead of Declan Rice in the holding role.

Liverpool midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his fine form by scoring the opener against Montenegro on Thursday, having battled back from a serious knee injury suffered two months before the World Cup.

"In that time there have been a lot of other boys who have come through," Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

"There are different players and new dynamics, so it is nice to slot back in and push myself to keep improving and try to find something different to help this team move forward.

"I've made steps forward for sure with where I was before. I've got that feeling back of attacking and getting into areas and a few goals help that and help my confidence and for others to say I have found my form."

Alexander Isak was subjected to racist abuse as Sweden booked their spot at Euro 2020 with a win over Romania on Friday.

Isak, 20, came off the bench during the win in Bucharest, with the game halted shortly after his 78th-minute introduction.

While play was then allowed to continue, the Real Sociedad forward confirmed he had reported racist abuse to the referee, describing the incident as "incredibly sad".

"Of course it is sad for the moment, but at the same time we were prepared for such things to happen, even if it does not help in that way," Isak told C More.

"I think I could handle it well and the team's support was incredible too.

"We did well and it is incredibly sad that such things happen, but what should we do?"

With one game remaining, Sweden (18 points) are second to Spain (23) in Group F, with both sides having already progressed.

Finland were the other team to book their spot at Euro 2020 on Friday after a 3-0 victory over Liechtenstein, reaching their first major tournament.

Denmark and Switzerland moved closer to qualifying from Group D after wins over Gibraltar and Georgia respectively.

With 15 points, Denmark top the group ahead of Switzerland (14) and the Republic of Ireland (12), with all three teams having one game left to play.

Spain coach Robert Moreno hailed Santi Cazorla as "exceptional" after the experienced midfielder scored his first international goal in four years.

Villarreal playmaker Cazorla has worked his way back into the Spain reckoning following his arduous and well-documented injury woes and was on target in the 7-0 Euro 2020 qualifying thrashing of Malta in Cadiz.

It was an evening in which Spain's old guard proved their worth amid debut goals for Pau Torres and Dani Olmo, with Jesus Navas, Raul Albiol and Sergio Ramos all impressing – a fact not lost on Robert Moreno.

"What Santi's achieving, his form, after what he went through for nearly three years with his terrible injury problems, is exceptional," said the coach.

"Without guys like him and Raul and Sergio it's hard to win tournament semi-finals and finals.

"The contribution of people like Santi, Sergio and Raul – the generation who have already won tournaments – is incalculable. 

"They have such quality and it's hard to win tournaments without their kind of experience. They've accumulated things that they not only contribute in performance but transmit to others."

Cazorla's strike followed Alvaro Morata's opener before the floodgates opened in the second half with Torres and Olmo's efforts sandwiching Pablo Sarabia's strike, before Gerard Moreno and Navas rounded out the win.

Robert Moreno was impressed with the way his side kept the pressure on their vastly outclassed opponents.

"The gap between 'big' international sides and so-called lesser nations is closing – it's very equal now across the board," he added. 

"We worked really hard on opening things up, on finishing, because we knew we wouldn't have it easy. Playing well like this and scoring lots of goals is always very welcome.

"The easiest thing in the world would have been for my players to accept three or four-nil and drop their level. But we hit seven and could easily have scored 10 – that says very good things about their mentality.

"I note that the players are remembering what I told them the last time we were together and the time before that. We are apart for weeks or months but the momentum is growing so that they put into practice what I asked of them previously. That's good.

"We think it's pretty historic that both Pau [Torres] and Dani [Olmo] both came on and scored with their first touch. It's been decades since two subs came on and scored on their debuts."

Roberto Mancini revelled in watching his Italy side break new ground in Friday's 3-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win at Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Francesco Acerbi, Lorenzo Insigne and Andrea Belotti were on target as the already qualified Azzurri maintained a 100 per cent record in Group J after nine matches.

The result marked a 10th consecutive victory for Italy, a feat no other Azzurri side has ever managed.

It broke the previous best achieved by Vittorio Pozzo's side between 1938 and 1939, a fact that brought plenty of joy to head coach Mancini.

"It's pleasing. We've beaten a mythical feat, and this can only be a pleasure," Mancini told Rai Sport.

"Tonight I saw a great Italy performance. We knew it wouldn't be an easy game, even though they had nothing to play for, but we immediately got on the right track."

Mancini has rotated with his central striker through qualifying, with Belotti earning the nod ahead of Ciro Immobile this time and backing up his double against Liechtenstein last time out.

"If they score it's better for us and we hope they continue in this way in matches during the Euros," Mancini said of his striker options.

Mancini identified a fault, though, saying: "We played too far back. When you are tired you have to stand taller because if you are convinced you've won the game you risk opening it up again."

Sergio Ramos described Spain's 7-0 demolition of Malta as an "unforgettable night" as the Real Madrid star received a special salute from the Cadiz crowd on Friday.

Ramos captained Robert Moreno's side to an emphatic victory at Estadio Ramon de Carranza that ensured they will finish top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group F.

First-half goals from Alvaro Morata and Santi Cazorla put Spain, who had already booked a spot at the European Championship, on track for three points before the floodgates opened in the second half, with Pablo Sarabia, Gerard Moreno and Jesus Navas all scoring along with debutants Pau Torres and Dani Olmo.

Ramos was honoured before kick-off with a tifo in the stands, having broken Iker Casillas' record for all-time Spain appearances in last month's draw with Norway.

The 33-year-old felt he was unlikely to forget the occasion of his 169th international match.

"This win is the best present. It's a great personal joy and a good night for the national team," said Ramos.

"Malta were very deep from the first minute of the game. We paid attention to the coach's instructions, played down the wings so we could influence the play between the lines and open them up.

"I'm happy in general for the goals, for the debutants and for our qualification.

"I'm very grateful to Cadiz for their support. Hopefully, in Madrid, people will also turn out for the national team.

"We're all delighted with the victory, the atmosphere, the crowd, everything. For me, it's been an unforgettable night."

Spain conclude their qualifying campaign against Romania at the Wanda Metropolitano on Monday.

Roberto Mancini and his Italy side broke new ground in their comfortable 3-0 win at Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday.

The victory in the Euro 2020 qualifier not only ensured they maintained a 100 per cent record in Group J but also saw the Azzurri rack up a 10th consecutive triumph.

No Italy side has ever achieved such a feat and they will look to stretch the streak in their final qualifier against Armenia on Monday.

Below, we take a look back at Italy's record-breaking run.


Italy 1-0 United States: Nov 20, 2018

The run started with an unconvincing 1-0 victory over USA in Genk a little under a year ago. Italy dominated proceedings but needed Matteo Politano's 94th-minute strike to secure the win.


Italy 2-0 Finland: Mar 23, 2019

Euro 2020 qualifying started in convincing fashion for Mancini's men in Udine. Nicolo Barella's deflected effort and a first Azzurri goal for Moise Kean did the damage.


Italy 6-0 Liechtenstein: Mar 26, 2019

Fabio Quagliarella became Italy's oldest international scorer at the age of 36 as Liechtenstein were hammered in Parma. The veteran scored two penalties in the rout - the latter after Daniel Kaufmann was sent off on the stroke of half-time - while Stefano Sensi, Marco Verratti, Kean and Leonardo Pavoletti were also on target. 


Greece 0-3 Italy: Jun 8, 2019

A flying start to qualifying continued in Athens in a match that was essentially over thanks to a three-goal 10-minute salvo in the first half. Barella's thumping opener was added to by Lorenzo Insigne's sumptuous strike, before Leonardo Bonucci headed in the third. 


Italy 2-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina: Jun 11, 2019

In one of the trickiest encounters during Italy's run, the hosts fell behind to Roma striker Edin Dzeko's close-range effort after 32 minutes. Insigne levelled shortly after the break, but it took until the 86th minute for Verratti to curl home the winner.


Armenia 1-3 Italy: Sep 5, 2019

Italy again had to come from behind after Aleksandre Karapetian put Armenia in a surprise lead, but he was sent off after Andrea Belotti's leveller. Still, it was not until the 77th minute that Lorenzo Pellegrini headed the visitors ahead, and an unfortunate own goal from goalkeeper Aram Ayrapetyan rounded out the win.


Finland 1-2 Italy: Sep 8, 2019

A hectic final 30 minutes saw Teemu Pukki cancel out Ciro Immobile's header to draw Finland level from the penalty spot. However, a spot-kick of their own from Jorginho after a handball from Sauli Vaisanen maintained Italy's 100 per cent record in qualifying.


Italy 2-0 Greece: Oct 12, 2019

A month later, another Jorginho penalty set Italy on their way against Greece in Rome and Federico Bernardeschi added a second as the Azzurri booked their place at Euro 2020.


Liechtenstein 0-5 Italy: Oct 15, 2019

It was another luckless night for Liechtenstein, who were turned over in Vaduz. Belotti scored twice, while Bernardeschi, Alessio Romagnoli and Stephan El Shaarawy put their names on the scoresheet.


Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-3 Italy: Nov 15, 2019

The record-breaking day arrived in Zenica as Italy controlled proceedings. Francesco Acerbi's first goal for his country and Insigne's strike after 37 minutes had the visitors coasting at the break. Belotti struck a fine third to ensure a new landmark was set.

Santi Cazorla scored his first Spain goal for four years as two debutants also got on the scoresheet in a 7-0 thrashing of Malta in Euro 2020 qualifying on Friday.

The Villarreal veteran struck 41 minutes in after Alvaro Morata had put Robert Moreno's men ahead, before the floodgates opened in the second half at Estadio Ramon de Carranza.

Moreno made seven changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Sweden last time out and handed debuts to Pau Torres and Dani Olmo in the second half, each of whom repaid him with a goal.

A fine strike from Pablo Sarabia, a simple finish for the impressive Gerard Moreno and a late Jesus Navas effort secured a resounding victory in Cadiz for a Spain side who were already assured of their place at next year's finals.

Morata scored his seventh goal in as many games for club and country with 23 minutes gone, bundling a finish beyond goalkeeper Henry Bonello after Gerard Moreno turned a loose ball goalwards.

It was Morata who prevented Spain doubling their lead 27 minutes in, the striker judged to be interfering with play from an offside position when Moreno blasted home the rebound after a brilliant Bonello save denied Sergio Ramos.

Moreno somehow failed to turn Sarabia's cross into an unguarded net, but the second goal did come - and in some style - four minutes before the break. Cazorla gathered Moreno's first-time pass and slotted the ball in off the left-hand post for his first international goal since 2015.

Cazorla went off to a standing ovation eight minutes after the restart as Spain set about securing the result, with only a brilliant clearance off the line from Jonathan Caruana denying Sarabia.

Spain ended the match as a contest with two goals in the space of a minute, Torres chesting the ball in from Paco Alcacer's flick-on from a corner before Sarabia arrowed a left-footed finish into the top-right corner from Moreno's lay-off.

Olmo became the second debutant to get on the scoresheet, rounding the goalkeeper before slotting home after the Malta defence was split by Thiago's pass, and Moreno at last got his goal when he tapped in Juan Bernat's cut-back.

Navas capped a fine outing for Spain with the goal of the game five minutes from time, sending a dipping strike over the stranded Bonello from 25 yards out.

 

What does it mean? Spain's old guard give Moreno food for thought

Raul Albiol, Navas and Cazorla might have a combined age of 101, but they started this game entirely on merit given their club form.

While this was as routine as qualifying matches get, none of the three looked out of place and could all hope to be part of the final squad for next year's tournament.

Marvellous Moreno makes amends for miss

He will likely never know quite how he missed his first-half chance, but Moreno made up for it with three assists and a second-half tap-in in a lively performance down the Spain right.

Bonello bamboozled

His defence did not exactly help him in the second half, but neither did Bonello cover himself in glory, particularly with his positioning for Navas' goal.

What's next?

Spain conclude Euro 2020 qualifying against Romania in Madrid on Monday, when Malta host Norway.

Italy earned a record 10th consecutive victory with a convincing 3-0 win at Bosnia-Herzegovina in Friday's Euro 2020 qualifier.

The Azzurri were already assured of top spot in Group J and were in control at the break in Zenica thanks to Francesco Acerbi's first Italy goal and Lorenzo Insigne's effort.

Andrea Belotti's fine strike early in the second half ensured Italy retained their 100 per cent record, while Bosnia-Herzegovina already knew they were destined for the play-offs.

It means Roberto Mancini breaks new ground as the first Italy coach to oversee 10 straight wins, while it also marks the first time they have won six away games in a row.

Gianluigi Donnarumma was sharp to keep out Ermin Bicakcic's close-range header and defender Zoran Kvrzic made a great block to deny Insigne before Italy went in front.

The visitors worked the ball into the box and Nicolo Barella teed up Acerbi, who showed quick feet before rifling into the bottom-right corner.

Things got better when Belotti wormed his way into the area to pick out Insigne and his effort found the bottom-left corner despite not making clean contact.

Donnarumma made fine saves from Gojko Cimirot and Adnan Kovacevic to protect the two-goal lead and Belotti put the match to bed after 52 minutes.

The Torino forward raced onto Barella's throughball and his sweetly hit 20-yard effort curved past Ibrahim Sehic.

Kovacevic was perhaps fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for a challenge that caught Belotti high and Mancini made the rare decision to sub a keeper when Pierluigi Gollini made his Italy bow late on, as the closing stages passed largely without incident.

 

What does it mean? Mancini has history-making Italy in great shape

After the ignominy of missing out on the 2018 World Cup under previous boss Gian Piero Ventura, Mancini has quietly gone about rebuilding Italy's shattered confidence. In Federico Bernardeschi and Insigne they have creativity in forward positions, while Jorginho, Sandro Tonali and Barella are a work in progress in midfield. Tougher tests lay in wait but a winning mentality has returned to the Azzurri.

Barella the fella making Italy tick

There were a lot of things to like for Italy, but Barella was particularly impressive pulling the strings in the heart of midfield. The Inter star finished the evening with four key passes and two assists.

Dzeko has his Ed-in his hands

Having spent the past four years in Serie A, Edin Dzeko is no stranger to Italy, but he unusually snatched at his chances and was unable to hurt the visitors.

What's next?

Italy will look to make it 10 wins from 10 in Group J when they host Armenia in their final qualifier on Monday, while Bosnia-Herzegovina's last group game is at Liechtenstein on the same day.

Joachim Low sees similarities between Germany's youthful squad and the exciting 2010 vintage but does not consider his team a leading Euro 2020 contender.

Victory over Belarus in Monchengladbach on Saturday and anything less than a win for Northern Ireland against Netherlands would confirm Germany's place at next year's tournament.

A developing Die Mannschaft have won five of their past seven matches and are starting to build momentum after a rocky post-World Cup period.

Just one member of the squad, captain Manuel Neuer, is over the age of 30 and Low compared the potential of the team to the one that reached the semi-finals in South Africa almost a decade ago.

But the long-serving head coach moved to temper expectations of a serious challenge for silverware.

"As of today we have a very talented, ambitious, hungry team with a lot of potential, comparable to the team for the 2010 World Cup," Low said.

"But we will not be among the absolute top favourites. For that, many players have to be even further along in their development. We're working on it.

"France, England have been playing with the same players for years.

"There's the Dutch, Spain… to play for a title is incredibly difficult. But the guys are really good, we have a good base."

Neuer, 33, will start in goal against Belarus, with Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen to take over for Tuesday's final Group C clash at home to Northern Ireland.

Low confirmed two more Bayern Munich regulars, Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry, would be in the starting XI this weekend following their impressive performances in the club's recent Bundesliga win over Borussia Dortmund. 

The Bundesliga champions, still without a full-time head coach, are now being linked with an audacious bid to bring Pep Guardiola back to Allianz Arena.

Asked about that scenario, Low replied: "Pep Guardiola was very good for the Bundesliga.

"He is one of the best coaches. I don't know if he will come back and whether he wants to [return] is just speculation. I don't know what Bayern are planning, that's their business."

Gareth Bale has further risked the wrath of Real Madrid's notoriously vociferous support by acknowledging he gets more excitement playing for Wales than Los Blancos.

Bale, 30, joined Madrid for a then world-record fee reported to be worth €100million in 2013 and enjoyed significant success at the club, winning every competition, including four Champions League titles.

In the most recent of those Champions League successes in 2017-18, Bale scored a vital brace as Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1, but despite his haul of trophies at the club, fans never truly took to the winger, who has also had issues with coach Zinedine Zidane.

He has received particular criticism for his inability to speak Spanish and a perceived commitment to golf ahead of Madrid, with the Spanish media often focusing on the latter.

And Bale can expect further scorn from Madrid fans and the media after freely admitting on international duty that he unequivocally prefers playing for his country, who he is away with despite not playing at club level since suffering an injury in Wales' last get together.

"I definitely have more excitement playing for Wales," Bale told reporters on Friday ahead of facing Azerbaijan.

"I've been with most of the older players since we were in the Under-17s. It's like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday. It's normal.

"With Wales, I'm speaking my own language and feel more comfortable. But it doesn't change what I do on the pitch.

"I always give 100 per cent on the pitch wherever I am, that's what I always strive to do."

Despite the vilification he is often forced to put up with in Spain, Bale insists he takes it all in good humour because he believes many of those criticising have no idea what they are talking about.

"I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me," Bale said.

"On one it said triple bogey, and I have never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It's funny.

"Some of the things I have seen… people don't understand and don't know what they're on about. So, I just find it quite funny."

Bale accepts that it might look curious from Madrid's perspective that he is fit to feature for Wales again after a month out of action domestically, but he insists it is a coincedence.

"I've done my rehab, four weeks training," he said. "Obviously there are two big games and I'm not sure if I'll play the two whole 90 minutes, but I'll do my best to play as much as I can. I fully understand the position I'm in.

"I've done as much as I can in terms of trying to get back as quickly as I can. We've done 11v11 to try and get some match fitness in me.

"If there had been a Real Madrid game this week, I would've been fit and training to play. Maybe to them it doesn't look great, but it's just a coincidence that the national team comes around this week.

"Everyone knows how passionate I am about Wales. We always look to not just qualify for one, we want to qualify for multiple tournaments.

"It's important not just for the here and now, but for the future of Welsh football. It will inspire kids again and hopefully make more kids play football and make our national team better for the future."

Tammy Abraham urged England fans to get behind the squad leading into Euro 2020 following the "unacceptable" treatment of Joe Gomez on Thursday.

Boos were heard at Wembley when Liverpool defender Gomez entered the 7-0 qualifying victory over Montenegro as a second-half substitute. 

The 22-year-old had days earlier been involved in altercation with England team-mate Raheem Sterling, who was subsequently dropped from the matchday squad.

Gareth Southgate admitted to being perplexed by the reception Gomez received and Manchester City forward Sterling took to Twitter to describe it as "wrong".

Chelsea's Abraham agreed, telling reporters: "We're all England, if we're players or fans.

"We said after the game it was unacceptable. We don't need that really. He's a great player.

"Things happen in football, things happen between team-mates. It's about dusting yourself [off] and just moving on. As you can see, we've all done it at England, we've all moved on from the situation.

"We need everyone to be together. At times like that, we need the fans to lift us up and help us. Going into tournaments, we need it."

The booing of Gomez added a sour note to what had otherwise been an exceptional outing for England.

Harry Kane marked the Three Lions' 1000th match with a quickfire hat-trick and Southgate's men confidently confirmed their qualification for Euro 2020.

Abraham rounded out the scoring with his first international goal, a close-range finish from Jadon Sancho's pass.

The striker has been in brilliant form for Chelsea this season and has big ambitions for club and country.

Asked if England can win the Euros, he replied: "I believe so. Bigger dreams, hopefully. Being at the Euros, winning it, top four or top two in the Premier League, just believing.

"The sky's the limit. Hopefully, hopefully – I don't want to jinx myself."

Cristiano Ronaldo is the world's best player and is always hungry for more, Portugal team-mate Mario Rui said.

Ronaldo inspired Portugal to a 6-0 thrashing of Lithuania in Euro 2020 qualifying on Thursday, scoring a hat-trick in the Group B win.

Mario Rui lauded his 34-year-old team-mate after Portugal moved a step closer to qualifying for next year's showpiece tournament.

"He is the best in the world, never tired of winning, wanting more, and it is this hunger that makes him what he is," the Napoli left-back said, via A Bola.

"We are happy to have him on the team and I hope he will continue to give us joy as he has done so far."

Pizzi, Goncalo Paciencia and Bernardo Silva also scored for Portugal, who are second in the group on 14 points, behind Ukraine (19) but ahead of Serbia (13).

Portugal can secure their place when they visit Luxembourg on Sunday and Mario Rui said a tough task awaited his side.

"Mathematically, we know it is not [guaranteed] yet," he said. "We will face a tough team, Luxembourg, we still had that confirmation with the result in Serbia [who won 3-2].

"We know it will be a very difficult game, but our goal is to be at Euro 2020 and we will try to bring all three points to Portugal."

Didier Deschamps was not impressed with France's first-half performance against Moldova, insisting Euro 2020 qualification did not justify a below-par showing in their 2-1 win.

France booked their place at next year's finals before playing on Thursday, as Turkey drew at home to Iceland to ensure the visitors could not catch either their opponents or the world champions.

But rather than celebrate in style, France started sloppily in a Group H qualifier packed with decisive errors in Paris.

Clement Lenglet handed Moldova's Vadim Rata the opener, but Raphael Varane profited from Alexei Koselev's mistake, before Olivier Giroud sealed victory from the penalty spot.

With France still battling for seeding in the Euros draw, head coach Deschamps was concerned by the substandard early display.

"I do not think [qualifying explains a poor performance] and I hope not because it's not enough to be qualified," he said. "The possibility of finishing first remained with a victory.

"We conceded the goal on an error, but our first half was insufficient. I am not satisfied with the attacking play in the first period.

"The second was more consistent, even if we lacked efficiency. We had 17 attempts, not always on target. But in the first half, we had too few.

"There was a tendency to ask for the ball only to feet and not in behind. There was not enough movement and availability. It was too static, there was a lack of mobility."

Deschamps confirmed he had delivered some home truths at half-time, adding: "I can sometimes be hard, very hard with them

"There is so much potential in this team that, when I do not see what I want to see, I say it."

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