Ronaldo celebrates goal as Portugal survive scare

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo scored and celebrated as his side recovered from an early scare in Luxembourg to start their World Cup Group F qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win.

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A fifth of Luxembourg's population is Portuguese and many turned up in the 8,000-strong crowd at the compact Josy Barthel stadium but they were stunned when a Portuguese-born Luxembourgian Daniel da Mota punished a clumsy start by the favourites to put the hosts ahead with a fierce drive after 13 minutes.

Ronaldo, who hit the headlines after failing to celebrate two league goals last weekend for Real Madrid and telling reporters he was "sad", levelled 15 minutes later.

The Portuguese captain slotted in an easy goal and greeted team mates with a clenched fist, celebrating the equaliser not too exuberantly but apparently happy.

The visitors kept pressing on and were too strong for Luxembourg who succumbed to a coolly-taken drive by Helder Postiga in the 54th minute.

Portugal, also drawn with Russia, Israel and Northern Ireland in Group F, host Azerbaijan in Braga next Tuesday.

Goals from Robin van Persie and Luciano Narsingh got the Netherlands back on track after a disappointing European Championship campaign as they beat Turkey 2-0 in their opening Group D qualifier.

Van Persie put the Dutch in front after 17 minutes while Narsingh broke through on the counter attack in added time to seal an 11th straight World Cup qualifying win for the hosts.

The home side's rejigged defence, including 20-year-old Bruno Martins Indi and teenager Jetro Willems, made a shaky start, allowing Omer Toprak to go close with a first-minute header for the visitors.

Despite the Turks enjoying the better of the opening exchanges backed by about 20,000 fans, the Dutch opened the scoring when Van Persie met a Wesley Sneijder corner.

The goal boosted the home side's confidence but their careless defending continued when Willems lost the ball to Arda Turan only for the midfielder to shoot wide.

Just before the break Netherlands keeper Tim Krul hesitated and almost let in Umut Bulut whose header hit the bar.

Turkey began to run out of ideas and energy in the second half, allowing the Dutch to regroup and take the game to the visitors.

Van Persie and Robben had decent chances before Narsingh wrapped up the victory in stoppage time.

A first-half goal by Abou Diaby gave France a winning start in their Group I qualifying campaign as they snatched a 1-0 victory in Finland.

Diaby, whose career has been hampered by injuries and had not played for Les Bleus since June last year, netted with a cross shot from Karim Benzema's through pass in the 20th minute.

"Last season was a tough one but I don't want to look behind, I prefer to move forward," said Diaby.

Finland also had chances but proved too clumsy to make their presence in the box count as new coach Didier Deschamps claimed his first win in his second match in charge since taking over from Laurent Blanc after Euro 2012.

France, who had Hugo Lloris to thank for in the final minutes after the keeper made a lightning quick save, next play Belarus at the Stade de France on Tuesday in the second game of a group also featuring world and European champions Spain.

"We were in danger in the end but it's always the case when you fail to add a second goal," Deschamps said.

Finland sat back and waited to hit France on the break and their plan almost paid off after 14 minutes.

Kasper Hamalainen caught the visitors' defence off guard but Yanga-Mbiwa denied him with a fine tackle just as he was about to shoot.

France went ahead in the 20th minute when Benzema slalomed through the midfield before feeding Diaby with a through ball for the Arsenal midfielder to find the back of the net.

Yohan Cabaye's fierce shot was parried away by Lukas Hradecky five minutes into the second half as Deschamps's side pushed hard for a second goal.

Finland, however, also went close when Teemu Pukki was found unmarked in the box but Anthony Reveillere managed to reclaim the ball just in time.

The hosts pressed in the final 20 minutes but young French centre backs Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Mamadou Sakho stayed alert until the final whistle to keep Finland at bay.

"It (Yanga-Mbiwa and Sakho) was a logical choice, and they confirmed their good performance from the previous game (a 0-0 draw against Uruguay)," said Deschamps.

"It's always harder up front. We need to be more present, although Diaby brought a lot in this area. We also need to be more spontaneous."

Lloris, who just joined Tottenham Hotspur from Olympique Lyon, once again showed his class with a quick save to deny Tim Sparv's last-gasp header.

Bulgaria's lively midfielder Georgi Milanov struck midway through the second half to earn Bulgaria a 2-2 draw at home to new-look Italy in their opening qualifier.

Bulgaria, who failed to score in their four home Euro 2012 qualifiers, took a deserved lead when Stanislav Manolev gave Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon no chance with a stunning 30-metre drive on the half-hour in the Group B clash.

But Italy, who switched to a 3-5-2 formation, responded in style with striker Pablo Osvaldo scoring twice in four minutes before halftime.

The striker netted from close range in the 36th minute from the unmarked Claudio Marchisio's clever assist and gave the Azzurri the lead when his header took a deflection five minutes before the break.

Milanov made it 2-2 with a fine shot from 10 metres following a right-wing cross from substitute Iliyan Mitsanski after 66 minutes.

Mesut Ozil scored twice as Germany began their campaign with a predictable 3-0 win over a defensive disciplined but extremely limited Faroe Islands.

There was early drama as Faroes goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen kept the hosts at bay for almost half an hour and a hint of desperation was creeping into the Germans' play before Mario Goetze broke through.

After that Germany relaxed, stroked the ball around, often at walking pace, and completed the European Group C win with two Ozil goals in the second half.

The game was largely played in near silence, broken only by a monotonous drum-banging in the background, and even the goals brought only muted cheers from the crowd.

Nielsen made excellent saves to defy Sami Khedira and Marco Reus as the opening exchanges resembled an attack-versus-defence training session.

Goetze settled German nerves in the 28th minute when he collected the ball around 30 metres from goal, weaved his way between the Faroe defenders and rolled the shot just inside the post from 12 metres.

A rare Faroes Islands attack led to Germany's second in the 54th minute. The hosts broke out of defence, Thomas Mueller crossed from the byline and Ozil swept the ball into the net from 12 metres.

The Real Madrid midfielder provided another neat finish in the 72nd minute when Reus slipped the ball to him and he clipped the ball past Nielsen from the edge of the area.

An opportunist goal by substitute Nikica Jelavic earned Croatia a 1-0 win over fellow former Yugoslav country Macedonia in Group A.

New coach Igor Stimac enjoyed a winning start on his competitive debut but Macedonia were the better side in the first half and having weathered an early onslaught, when Eduardo's first-minute header hit the post, they were unlucky not to score in the opening period.

Centre back Vance Sikov had a header cleared off the line by his Croatian opposite number Josip Simunic before Macedonia captain Goran Pandev's piledriver from 25 metres cannoned off the crossbar.

The home team's playmaker Luka Modric, watched from the terraces by his Real Madrid club manager Jose Mourinho, was lively after the interval and one of his sublime touches unlocked the Macedonian defence in the 69th minute.

Modric floated a perfect cross into the penalty box for Mario Mandzukic, who headed the ball into the path of Jelavic and his strike partner prodded a glancing header past keeper Martin Bogatinov.

Croatia were forced to hang on in the closing stages as the visitors pressed forward but were unable to carve out a clear-cut chance.

"It took a lot of effort to get over the recent 4-2 friendly defeat by Switzerland and we can't complain about tonight's result bearing in mind that we had several half-fit players," Stimac told Croatian television.

"Corluka was battling an injury and Modric was far from his ideal shape too after a long summer layoff, hence I think we did a great job because a winning start was all that mattered.

"We were wary after Macedonia pinned us back in the first half, we were too slow in passing the ball and creating space and these are the things we have to look at."

Croatia are away to Belgium in their next match on Tuesday, when Macedonia visit Scotland.

There were jubilant scenes in Reyjavik as Iceland sealed a shock 2-0 victory over Scandinavian neighbours Norway in their opening Group E qualifier thanks to goals from Kari Arnason and Alfred Finnbogason.

Coached by Swede Lars Lagerback, Iceland took the lead after 21 minutes when Arnason bundled the ball in from a throw-in following a mistake by Norwegian goalkeeper Espen Bugge Pettersen.

Norway's Joshua King had a goal ruled out for offside midway through the second half before Finnbogason doubled Iceland's lead in the 80th minute, beating the offside trap from the halfway line and finishing coolly past Bugge Pettersen.

After the first round of matches Albania top group E on goals scored ahead of Switzerland and Iceland, followed by Cyprus, Norway and Slovenia.

Vedad Ibisevic and Edin Dzeko scored hat-tricks to help Bosnia thrash Liechtenstein 8-1 in their opening qualifier.

Zvjezdan Misimovic scored the other two for the visitors as Liechtenstein, whose players mainly ply their trade in the lower divisions of the Swiss league, were outclassed in the opening match in Group G.

Dzeko's tally made him Bosnia's all-time leading scorer with 25 goals, two ahead of Misimovic who, on 23, briefly held the record at halftime.

The hosts held out for 26 minutes, before Misimovic blasted a powerful effort past Peter Jehle and then struck again five minutes later, beating his marker with a drag-back and rifling a second goal.

Two Ibisevic headers then made it 4-0 by halftime, before Dzeko opened his account immediately after the break, effortlessly turning his marker to drill a shot into the far corner.

Mathias Christen pulled one back just after the hour mark, only for Dzeko to quickly reply with a sixth for Bosnia.

Dzeko completed his hat-trick after Misimovic selflessly laid the ball off to him in the 80th minute, with Ibisevic claiming his third goal, and Bosnia's eighth, after he walked the ball into the net three minutes later.

Montenegro and Poland fought out a tense 2-2 draw in a Group H qualifying game marked by two red cards.

The visitors took an early lead from the penalty spot when Robert Lewandowski was fouled in the fifth minute. Jakub Baszczykowski stepped up to score.

The Poles seemed disturbed after their goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton was struck by a firecracker thrown from the crowd, with more objects landing nearby.

Nikola Drincic and then, on the stroke of halftime, Mirko Vucinic, gave the home side the lead, only for Poland to grab an equaliser after Adrian Mierzejewski headed in Ludovic Obraniak's free kick in the 55th minute.

Tempers became frayed as the second half continued.

Referee Kristinn Jakobsson sent off Montenegro's Savo Pavicevic in the 69th minute after he elbowed Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski.

Two minutes later Poland's Ludovic Obraniak saw red after he pushed an opponent.

"This looked very similar to a war," said Poland's new coach Waldemar Fornalik. "Because of this one point is even more valuable."

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