June 09, 2017

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris set up a comical late winner for Sweden forward Ola Toivonen in their 2018 World Cup qualifier on Friday.

With the game into the third minute of injury time, a draw seemed certain until Lloris tried a reckless pass out from his penalty area. The ball failed to even reach the halfway line, and Toivonen pounced to send it back over the head of Lloris to give the Swedes a 2-1 win.

The victory moved Sweden to the top of Group A, level with second-place France on 13 points.

The Netherlands climbed to third place - three points behind - after crushing last-place Luxembourg 5-0 at home and taking advantage of Bulgaria's 2-1 defeat at Belarus. Fourth-place Bulgaria is one point behind the Netherlands.

France coach Didier Deschamps refused to blame Lloris, despite his captain's shockingly bad error on his 89th international appearance - preferring instead to remind people of services rendered.

''I'm not going to condemn Hugo, because he's often been decisive for us,'' Deschamps said. ''It's unfortunate for him and the team.''

Coming into this match, France had the perfect confidence boost after beating Paraguay 5-0 in a friendly last Friday.

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud scored a hat trick in that game and opened the scoring this time in the 37th minute with a brilliant strike.

Collecting the ball just inside the left of the penalty area, the Arsenal striker astutely cushioned a looping pass the inside of his foot and then hit a fizzing, swerving shot into the right corner.

It was his 27th international goal - moving him level with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema - and his sixth in the past four games.

But six minutes later, the home fans were celebrating at the Friends Arena in Solna as poor marking allowed midfielder Jimmy Durmaz to fire home from inside the right side of the area.

''There were three of our players marking one of theirs, which left space for Durmaz,'' an irritated Deschamps said.

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NETHERLANDS 5, LUXEMBOURG 0

At the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, the Dutch veterans stole the show in an expectedly large win.

Making his national record 131st international appearance - and on his 33rd birthday - attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder made it 2-0 with a right-foot blast from outside the penalty area in the 34th.

It was his 31st international goal, which puts him two behind Arjen Robben after the winger opened the scoring in the 21st.

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum; Spartak Moscow forward Quincy Promes, and Tottenham striker Vincent Janssen added second-half goals.

There could well be a lot of nerves on show when the French host the Dutch at Stade de France on Aug. 31.

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BELARUS 2, BULGARIA 1

Bulgaria would have moved into third place in Group A with a win, but it all went wrong at the Borisov Arena.

Mikhail Sivakou's 33rd-minute penalty put the home side ahead and fellow midfielder Pavel Savitski made it 2-0 with 10 minutes left.

Midfielder Georgi Kostadinov replied for the visitors in injury time.

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