Paul Pogba’s unstoppable strike gave France a 1-0 victory on Monday and ended the Netherlands’ remarkable 15-year streak without a defeat in World Cup qualifying.
The world-record Manchester United signing has struggled to find his best form for club and country since leaving Juventus for Old Trafford this summer, but one moment of brilliance in Amsterdam helped Les Bleus to the top of the Group A table.
In the 30th minute, Pogba received a square pass from Dimitri Payet and blasted a shot from 35 yards out, skimming off the hands of Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg before going in to give Didier Deschamps’ side all the scoring they would need on the night.
The flamboyant Frenchman hardly celebrated his goal, instead remaining stone-faced as his teammates flocked to congratulate him.
The win, France’s first ever in a competitive game outside France, gives the Euro 2016 runners-up seven points from three matches.
The Dutch remain on four points after suffering their first defeat in a qualifier since 2001 as their 34-game unbeaten streak in the competition came to an end.
Christian Benteke began his hat trick with the fastest goal in World Cup history as Belgium thrashed Gibraltar 6-0 in Group H.
Benteke picked off Gibraltar’s second pass from the kickoff before breaking the previous fastest mark — in a qualifier or the finals — of 8.3 seconds set by San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri against England in 1993.
After Axel Witsel’s long-range strike doubled Belgium’s lead on 19 minutes, Benteke scored his second just before the break by tapping in Thomas Meunier’s cross from six yards out.
Dries Martins made it 4-0 when Steven Defour played him in on goal in the 51st minute, before Benteke completed his treble with a back-heel five minutes later.
Eden Hazard added the final goal on 79 minutes, pouncing as a ball trickled through the box.
Greece kept pace with Belgium atop Group H with their third win from three after winning 2-0 at Estonia.
Vasileios Torosidis opened the scoring after just two minutes with a header from Petros Mantalos’ corner.
Konstantinos Stafylidis then scored Greece’s second from a curling free kick after the hour mark to put the visitors in control.
Edin Dzeko scored twice as Bosnia-Herzegovina made up for a disappointing defeat to Belgium last week by defeating Cyprus 2-0.
In the 70th minute, Dzeko collected Miralem Pjanic’s pass inside the box and crashed his shot into the bottom corner, and 10 minutes later he rose highest in the area to nod in Pjanic’s cross.
Andre Silva completed a hat trick in 37 minutes and Cristiano Ronaldo added a goal as Portugal cruised 6-0 at the Faroe Islands in Group B.
Silva’s first goal came after 12 minutes when he ran onto a deflected through ball. He was then in the right place to tap in a pair of rebounds to make it 3-0 before half-time and become the first Portugal player other than Ronaldo to scored a hat trick since 2006.
Ronaldo got in on the scoring in the 65th minute with a powerful blast from 18 yards that keeper Gunnar Nielsen got a hand to but could not keep out of the net.
Joao Moutinho added a fifth in stoppage time with a side-footed effort from long range, and Joao Cancelo made it six with his third international goal in as many games.
Switzerland stayed perfect in Group B with a 2-1 win at minnows Andorra.
Fabian Schaer started the scoring with a 19th-minute penalty after Ildefonso Lima fouled Admir Mehmedi in the box, and Mehmedi sealed the points in the second half with a header from Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross.
Cristian Martinez found a consolation goal for Andorra but it came too late for a chance at an equaliser.
Hungary earned their first win of the campaign with a 2-0 victory at Latvia, who lost their second straight.
Adam Gyurcso met Nemanja Nikolic’s pass on the volley to give the visitors a 10th-minute lead, before AdAm Szalai headed home a second for Hungary following a corner in the 77th minute.
Sweden joined France atop Group A with a 3-0 thrashing of Bulgaria at the Friends Arena in Solna.
The Swedes took a two-goal lead into the break in the final six minutes of the half — Ola Toivonen and Oscar Hiljemark finding the back of the net in the 39th and 45th minute, respecticely.
And Victor Lindelof rounded off the perfect day for the hosts with a 58th-minute strike of hs own — the Benfica defender turning in Toivonen’s nod back to the six-yard box from close range after a corner kick.
In the group’s other game, 10-man Luxembourg snatched a late 1-1 draw with Belarus in Barysaw.
Dirk Carlson was sent off for his second yellow of the match in the 43rd minute, putting the visitors at a distinct disadvantage.
And Pavel Savitskiy looked to have finally capitalised — and given the hosts the points — in the 80th minute. But Aurelien Joachim struck back just five minutes later to ensure a point for Luc Holtz’s men.