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Posted On : 8 Oct, 2017  Source : IANS  Place : Sofia 
France close to qualifying for 2018 World Cup after win over Bulgaria
France won by a minimum 1-0 over Bulgaria here to be just a step away from qualifying for a berth in the 2018 football World Cup in Russia, with the final match and defining moment coming up this Tuesday.

The visitors put on the pressure from the first moment in the Saturday match, with pure aggression that got its results with an early goal for France, reports Efe.

At minute 3, Juventus star Matuidi took a pass from Griezmann and booted the ball past Iliev into the net to give France a 1-0 lead.

It was a good start, but that was as far as it went. The Bulgarians lost a chance to tie it up in the very next minute with a shot by Slavchev, which was a close call.

Throughout the first half the game was controlled by the French (65 per cent of possession), who scarcely allowed the Bulgarians to advance past the center line.

The French in the second half lost some of their dynamism and Bulgaria tried to take back the intiative, but to no avai.

The Bulgarians got their best chances at the 52nd and 69th minute, while Lacazette was right on the point of scoring a second goal for the French.

But he did not succeed and the match ended with a 1-0 victory for France, now a step closer to the World Cup in Russia.

Meanwhile on Saturday, the Netherlands also remained in the running for a place in the 2018 World Cub with a 3-1 victory over Belarus, though their prospects look much more daunting.

David Propper gave the Netherlands a 1-0 lead in the 25the minute, a lead that was tied up early in the second half when Maksin Volodko drove the ball past the Netherlands' goalkeeper.

At the 84th minute, Arejen Robben scored with a penalty kick to put the Netherlands ahead 2-1, then Memphis Depay wrapped it up for the final 3-1 victory.

However, to have any chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Netherlands team will have to down Sweden by six goals in their next outing.

Another squad that came away with the chance of a 2018 trip to Russia was Switzerland, which kept its chances alive with a 5-2 win over Hungary

The game was scoreless until the 18th minute when Switzerland's Granit Xhaka took advantage of a monumental mistake by goalkeeper Gulacis to make it 1-0, followed almost immediately by a shot by Fabian Frei from outside the area to make it 2-0.

With Swiss insistence, Steven Zuber boosted that score to 3-0 just before the half.

The hard work was done and all that remained in the second half was to see how many goals Switzerland could pile up.

Zuber came on in the second half with his second goal to make it 4-0 at the 49th minute, Guzmics put Hungary on the scoreboard at the 59th minute, the Netherlands' Lichtsteiner came back for the Dutch at the 83rd minute, and Ugrai made it 5-2 for the final score of Switzerland's win.

Switzerland now goes on to meet Portugal, and it will only take a tie to get the Swiss into the World Cup.