Another hat-trick for Cristiano Ronaldo, another victory – and qualification for the World Cup – for Denmark.
And even more crowd problems in a match between England and Hungary.
There was a sense of familiarity with the World Cup qualifiers in Europe on Tuesday, most notably in Faro where Ronaldo took his men’s record for international goals to 115 by scoring the 58th career treble for club and country in the 5 from Portugal. 0 victory over Luxembourg.
Denmark became the second European country to qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar, after Germany on Monday, securing an eighth consecutive group victory to beat Austria 1-0.
The decisive victory – sealed by Joakim Maehle’s second-half goal – came at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium where star playmaker Christian Eriksen collapsed in June during a European Championship game. It is still unclear whether Eriksen will be able to resume his career to compete in the World Cup in 13 months.
England are likely to be there but had to wait before reserving their place after being held to a 1-1 draw by Hungary at Wembley Stadium. Events on the pitch were overshadowed by clashes between police officers and Hungarian supporters early in the game, sparked – according to police – by a visiting fan making “racially aggravated” comments towards a flight attendant.
The mess from Hungarian fans – including racism – in the first group game between the teams, in Budapest last month, forced the Hungarians to play a game in an empty stadium.
Sweden passed Spain to take first place in Group B with a 2-0 victory over Greece, and Switzerland tied for points with Italy in Group C with a 4-0 victory over Greece. Lithuania.
In Group A, Portugal are one point behind Serbia, who beat Azerbaijan 3-1, but are one game short.
Only the best team from each group automatically qualifies for the World Cup. The second place finishers enter the playoffs.
A pair of penalties, in the eighth and 13th minutes, allowed Ronaldo to head to a record-breaking 10th international hat trick for Portugal which was completed in the 87th minute.
The Manchester United striker, 36, was playing his 182nd international game.
Bruno Fernandes and Joao Palhinha also scored for Portugal in their fourth consecutive qualifying victory, which left a back-to-back shootout with Serbia for first place.
Serbia’s last game will be in Portugal, who will first play their game in hand away from Ireland.
Denmark have continued their good form since the European Championship, where the team advanced to the semi-finals despite losing Eriksen in difficult circumstances in the opener.
The clean sheet against Austria means the Danes have yet to concede in Group F, despite being the only team with a 100 percent record in qualifying.
Maehle scored with a wide shot that was triggered by Thomas Delaney’s direct run, taking Denmark to 27 goals – just behind the Netherlands.
Denmark hold an unassailable seven-point lead over Scotland, who are still on track to finish second after a 1-0 win at the Faroe Islands.
Scotland are four points ahead of third-placed Israel who beat Moldova 2-1.
Crowd problems marred both Group I games – at the start of the England-Hungary game and towards the end of the Albania-Poland game.
The unrest at Wembley unfolded after officers entered the gallery “to arrest a spectator for a racist comment towards a flight attendant,” Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Police were seen wielding batons to restrain visiting fans, but the rest of the game went largely smoothly.
The England Football Association said it was reporting the incident to FIFA, which had previously put Hungary on probation with the threat of another match without supporters if there was more mess in the matches.
In Tirana, the match between Albania and Poland was temporarily interrupted when Polish players left the pitch after Albanian fans threw water bottles at them. The incident came after the Polish players celebrated a 77th-minute goal that ultimately earned them a 1-0 victory.
A Polish official on the bench called on the players to leave the pitch immediately. Before the match resumed – 20 minutes later – an announcement in the stadium warned fans that Albania may have to forfeit if more items are thrown.
England are three points ahead of Poland, which is still two points ahead of third-placed Albania.