Only nine places remain for next summer's World Cup

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Getty Images

Forward Antoine Griezmann scored one goal and assisted on another to lead France to a 2-1 victory here over Belarus and a berth in the 2018 World Cup football in Russia, while Portugal also qualified for football's main showcase with a 2-0 win over Switzerland.

Deschamps brought on Paris Saint-Germain starlet Kylian Mbappe in the second half to inject pace and fresh ideas, but with the seconds ticking down to the final whistle, it was Saroka again who slid a shot just wide from close range.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal confirmed a direct spot when it defeated group leaders Switzerland 2-0 with the help of an Johan Djourou own goal, followed by an Andre Silva goal.

France still would have qualified for the World Cup on Tuesday with a draw or even a loss, because Sweden lost 2-0 to the Netherlands in its final qualifying match.

Lionel Messi's first World Cup qualification hat-trick helped Argentina reach its 12th successive World Cup finals with a 3-1 win over Ecuador on Tuesday. Former World Cup winner France has also confirmed the ticket of upcoming Russia World Cup 2018 as well.

In extraordinary circumstances, it was Mohamed Salah's stoppage-time penalty which saw Egypt qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 27 years.

Another player who has been a part of Tite's Brazil revolution has been Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus, registering four goals and as many assists in his nine Selecao appearances.

A shining light in England's otherwise turgid qualification process, Tottenham striker Harry Kane was on hand to score five goals in six starts for the Three Lions.

Of the remaining nine places available in Russia - four will be from Europe, three will be from Africa and the other two will be the winners of the play-offs between Peru and New Zealand, and Honduras and Australia. But the difference was made double in 57th minutes of the game by Andre Silva.

But their 2-1 win over Costa Rica also highlighted global soccer body FIFA's surprising decision not to use goal-line technology in the qualifiers, as the ball did not appear to fully cross the line for their first goal. Griezmann scored the first goal against Belarus in 27th minutes and the team scored the second goals just after the four minutes. The Real Madrid star ended with 15 goals, one less than Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored a record-setting 16th on Sunday. They are in FIFA World Cup consecutive five times and all total seven times so far. The sought-after Southampton centre-back makes our side in a slightly makeshift back three.

Relationships may be frosty at Liverpool, but Philippe Coutinho's displays will be key to Brazil's success in Russia, along with the aforementioned Neymar and Jesus.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos is also counting on his captain to lead the way to Russia.

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