Home defeat eliminates Bulgaria from 2018 World Cup qualifying

Bulgaria is out of next year’s football World Cup in Russia after a 0-1 loss at home against France on October 7. With one match left to play, Bulgaria finds itself seven points from the second spot in Uefa qualifying group A, which offers a spot in the play-off round.

An early goal by Blaise Matuidi was enough for France to secure the full points on a soggy pitch at the Vassil Levski national stadium, as both teams struggled to get much traction in attack.

France had several opportunities in the first half to double their advantage and was nearly punished for its profligacy late in the first half, but Hugo Lloris made back-to-back saves during a goalmouth scramble to keep the scoreline unchanged.

In the other group A matches, Sweden virtually guaranteed it will finish in the top two with an 8-0 demolition of Luxembourg, while Netherlands beat Belarus 3-1.

France plays Luxembourg at home in the last round of matches on October 10 and would ensure direct qualification for the World Cup with a victory and Netherlands host Sweden, needing to win a seven-goal margin in order to overtake the Swedes in second.

Bulgaria can pad its points total in its last match away at Luxembourg and possibly improve its standing for the next qualifying draw. Overall, Bulgaria did better than expected in this qualifying cycle, notching home victories against both the Dutch and Sweden, but an away defeat to Belarus early in the campaign made qualification from such a tough group all but a mirage.



The Sofia Globe staff

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