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BC-SOC--European Qualifying Roundup

March 25, 2019
AP Sports Writer

An injury to Cristiano Ronaldo exacerbated Portugal’s frustrating start to its European Championship title defense.

Things couldn’t be going much better for free-scoring England and France.

Ronaldo hobbled off in the first half with an apparent right thigh injury in Portugal’s 1-1 draw with Serbia in Lisbon, which came three days after the titleholder’s 0-0 draw with Ukraine also at home.

They are the Juventus forward’s first games for his country since last year’s World Cup, since when he was accused of rape in the United States. He has denied any wrongdoing.

If Portugal has made a slow start to qualifying, England and France are already well on their way to topping their groups.

England beat Montenegro 5-1 away to follow up its 5-0 thrashing of the Czech Republic on Friday in Group A. It is the first time England has scored five or more goals in successive games since 1984.

After opening Group B with a 4-1 win over Moldova, France had a more impressive 4-0 win over Iceland with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann scoring second-half goals.

There were also wins for Albania, Turkey and Ukraine in qualifying on Monday.

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com.sdouglas80