Lewandowski hat trick keeps Poland on course for World Cup

WARSAW, Poland (AP) Robert Lewandowski hit a hat trick and stretched his 11-game run of scoring in successive World Cup qualifiers as Poland consolidated its lead in Group E by beating Romania 3-1 on Saturday.

Lewandowski made no mistake from the penalty spot before the half-hour mark after he had been fouled by Cristian Sapunaru, then claimed his 10th goal of this campaign with a header from open play. He completed his hat trick with another penalty just after the hour, after Alin Tosca fouled Piotr Zielinski.

Bogdan Stancu pulled one back with a brilliant finish for Romania but Poland never looked likely to drop to its first defeat as it restored its six-point lead in the group.

Lewandowski took his tally for this campaign to 11 goals, level with Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Group winners from the nine groups qualify automatically for the 32-team World Cup in Russia, while the eight runners-up with the best records against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups go on to play-offs to decide the other four tournament places allocated to Europe.

KAZAKHSTAN 1, DENMARK 3

Denmark maintained its push for a playoff place with a comfortable win in Almaty, where the home captain Bauyrzhan Islamkhan was sent off with a straight red card before the break.

Nicolai Jorgensen opened the scoring for the Danes before Islamkhan was sent off for a foul on William Kvist.

Kazakhstan's task was made even harder early in the second half when Yuri Logvinenko conceded a penalty for a foul on Yussuf Poulsen.

Christian Eriksen duly scored from the spot, and though Islambek Kuat pulled one back on a counterattack, Danish substitute Kasper Dolberg ended any hopes of a comeback with his side's third.

Denmark stayed third, level on 10 points with Montenegro.

MONTENEGRO 4, ARMENIA 1

Montenegro captain Stevan Jovovic scored a hat trick and set up another goal to steer his side to an impressive win that keeps it in pole position for second place.

Jovovic got the hosts off to a great start when he set up Fatos Beciraj in the second minute, then made it 2-0 with low shot from edge of box and struck his second after the break.

Jovovic completed his hat trick with a brilliant scissors kick late on, before Ruslan Koryan scored a consolation of sorts for Armenia.

Montenegro, which needed Danijel Petkovic to deny Marcos Pizzelli an equalizer after Beciraj scored, avenged its 3-2 defeat to Armenia in Yerevan last November.

Montenegro moved back ahead of Denmark on goal difference, while Armenia stayed fifth on six points, level with Romania in fourth on goal difference.

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