Despite Recording 34 Shots, France Held to Shocking 0-0 Draw Against Luxembourg
France 0, Luxembourg 0
TOULOUSE, France (AP) — Antoine Griezmann missed a straightforward early chance as France had more than 30 shots but failed to score in a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to a resilient Luxembourg on Sunday.
Veteran goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert kept Les Bleus at bay, as the visitors frustrated a France side that now only leads Sweden by one point in Group A with two games remaining.
France has 17 points, with Sweden on 16 and the Netherlands on 13 after beating Bulgaria 3-1 at home.
France routed the Netherlands 4-0 on Thursday, but it was a hugely frustrating night for coach Didier Deschamps' side this time. Luxembourg almost stole victory when substitute Gerson Rodrigues hit the post with a fine solo run and shot 12 minutes from time.
But France should have scored early on when forward Kylian Mbappe pulled the ball back and Griezmann blazed over from near the penalty spot when unmarked.
A Toulouse crowd hoping for a glut of goals ended up hoping for just one that never came.
After Mbappe, striker Oliver Giroud and full back Djibril Sidibe went close as Luxembourg continued frustrating France for the first half.
Midfielder Paul Pogba saw his shot from outside the penalty area palmed away by Joubert in the 37th, and Joubert tipped Griezmann's free kick onto the crossbar moments later.
''We had clear chances but against a compact team like that you have to keep pushing,'' Deschamps said.
The 37-year-old Joubert, making his 86th appearance, then made a superb low stop to keep out Sidibe's close-range header in the 68th.
Luck was with the visitors as Pogba hit the crossbar with a looping header in the 77th.
Switzerland 3, Latvia 0
Switzerland extended its perfect record in World Cup qualifying by defeating Latvia 3-0 Sunday for its eighth straight victory, while Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal edged Hungary 1-0 to stay close at the top of Group B.
With two games left, Switzerland has 24 points, three more than defending European champion Portugal. Third-place Hungary stayed on 10 points and is out of contention.
An Oct. 10 showdown between Portugal and Switzerland in Lisbon will likely decide which team wins the group to automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Three days earlier, Switzerland hosts Hungary and Portugal plays at Andorra.
Earlier Sunday, the Faeroe Islands defeated Andorra 1-0 for its second win, securing its best ever qualifying campaign.
Netherlands 3, Bulgaria 1
Davy Proepper scored twice Sunday as the Netherlands beat Bulgaria 3-1 in Group A to keep alive its hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup in Russia.
Dick Advocaat brought Proepper into his starting lineup to replace veteran Wesley Sneijder and the Brighton midfielder paid back his coach's faith with his first two international goals against a defensive-minded Bulgaria.
''It was good,'' Proepper told Dutch broadcaster NOS. ''My first goal and then straight away my second. That's beautiful.''
Sweden beat Belarus 4-0 in Borisov to go top of the group on goal difference from France, which plays Luxembourg in Toulouse later Sunday.
Proepper settled Dutch nerves by tapping in from close range in the 7th minute. Arjen Robben doubled the lead in the 67th minute with his 34th international goal.
Georgi Kostadinov pulled back a goal just two minutes later before Proepper sealed the win in the 80th.
''We had to win today, that was the only thing that counted,'' Robben told NOS.
''Sometimes we needed to push forward more,'' he added. ''You have to push on and score more goals.''
In a clear sign of the Dutch team's problems since reaching the semifinals of the World Cup in Brazil, it was the first win at the Amsterdam Arena since March 2015.
The Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2016 European Championship in France and is struggling now to make it to the next World Cup.
Only the group winner qualifies automatically for Russia, but the best second-placed teams from Europe can still earn a place through playoffs.
Advocaat made three changes to the Netherlands team that was thrashed 4-0 by France in Saint-Denis on Thursday with Tonny Vilhena replacing the suspended Kevin Strootman and Kenny Tete coming into defense instead of Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
But Proepper was clearly the most successful change as he opened his international scoring account early in the first half, tapping in a cross from the left by Daley Blind, and doubled his tally with a well-placed header.
Advocaat said he was satisfied with the result, ''but we should have scored more goals.''
Sweden 4, Belarus 0
After slumping to a surprise 3-2 defeat in Bulgaria on Thursday, Sweden made no mistakes in Borisov, beating Belarus 4-0.
In a tight group that could see goal difference play a crucial role, Sweden rushed out of the blocks, scoring three times in the first half, but could only add one more after the break.
Still, the goals were enough to put Sweden on top of Group A on goal difference, ahead of France, which was level on 16 points but was playing Luxembourg later Sunday.
Emil Forsberg, Christoffer Nyman and Marcus Berg all scored in the first half to put the Swedes in control and Andreas Granqvist converted a penalty in the 84th.