Ronaldo-less Portugal makes light work of Azerbaijan in World Cup qualifier

Goals from Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva and Diogo Jota led Portugal to a 3-0 win that puts Fernando Santos' side on top of Group A with 13 points.

The victory takes Fernando Santos's side to the top of Group A with 13 points - two ahead of its qualification rival Serbia.   -  REUTERS

Portugal cruised to a 3-0 victory away to Azerbaijan in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday to move top of Group A.

Portugal was without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was suspended after picking up a yellow card while celebrating his second goal in their last-gasp 2-1 victory over Ireland last week, but his absence was not felt as first-half strikes from Bernardo Silva and Andre Silva plus a Diogo Jota header secured victory.

The visitor, who was rarely troubled throughout, took the lead after 26 minutes as Bernardo latched onto Bruno Fernandes's deep cross to volley in at the back post.

Fernandes was heavily involved again as Portugal doubled its lead, this time his cross was turned across goal by Jota for Andre Silva, who tapped in from close range.

Jota then rounded off the victory 15 minutes from fulltime, heading in Joao Cancelo's centre.

The victory takes Fernando Santos's side to the top of Group A with 13 points - two ahead of its qualification rival Serbia.

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Milenkovic own goal earns Ireland 1-1 draw with Serbia

A freakish own goal from central defender Nikola Milenkovic earned Ireland a 1-1 home draw with Serbia as the visitor missed a string of chances after Sergej Milinkovic-Savic fired it ahead in its Group A World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

The result left Serbia second in the group on 11 points from five games, two behind leader Portugal who leapfrogged it into pole position with a 3-0 win in Azerbaijan earlier in the day.

Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu produced a string of superb saves after Milinkovic-Savic headed in Dusan Tadic's corner in the 20th minute, having denied Serbia's top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic three times.

The 19-year-old keeper also kept out efforts from Dusan Vlahovic, Nemanja Radonjic and Filip Kostic before Milinkovic-Savic turned villain in the 87th minute with a comical error.

He blasted a simple goal-mouth clearance into Milenkovic who could not get out of the way, giving Ireland only their second point in the qualifiers after Stephen Kenny's side scraped a 1-1 home draw against Azerbaijan on Saturday.

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