Oct 12, 2016

    Pogba answers coach's goad with goal


    A SEARING first-half strike from Paul Pogba handed France a 1-0 win at rivals the Netherlands while Belgium and Portugal clocked up 6-0 victories.

    Criticised by coach Didier Deschamps for his performance in Friday's 4-1 win over Bulgaria in Paris, the world's most expensive footballer emphatically replied with a towering display for Les Bleus in Amsterdam in the most eye-catching fixture on Monday.

    The Manchester United midfielder's powerful hit from 25m out after half an hour left diving Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg able to get his hands to the fizzing ball but unable to stop it.

    "I didn't speak to him (Pogba), I just said a few words to him before entering the changing rooms: 'I have confidence in you,' " said Deschamps.

    "The match confirms what he is able to do. Pogba was much better in everything he did.

    "He showed what he can do."

    France, losing finalists on home soil at Euro 2016, are equal on seven points at the top of Group A with Sweden, who beat Bulgaria 3-0 at home in Solna.

    The two countries will play on Nov 11 at the Stade de France.

    The Dutch failed to make it to the Euros and now sit third in the group, needing to improve fast if they are to make it to Russia in 2018.

    "Our goalkeeper made a mistake which he never makes in training," said coach Danny Blind.

    "We played better in the second half and we should have had at least a point because we had chances at the end of the match."

    Belgium went on a goal spree to top Group H on nine points out of nine, ahead of Greece on goal difference.

    Portugal, bidding to catch Group B leaders Switzerland, matched their 6-0 win over Andorra on Friday.

    Cristiano Ronaldo contributed a goal.

    Switzerland maintained their unbeaten run, coming away 2-1 winners from Andorra with Fabian Schaer and Admir Mehmedi scoring in either half.