AMSTERDAM, Oct 10 (Reuters) - France midfielder Paul Pogba scored with a swirling long-range shot after 30 minutes to secure a vital 1-0 win away to the Netherlands in World Cup qualifying on Monday.
The victory at the Amsterdam Arena elevated the Euro 2016 runners-up to overwhelming favourites to finish top of Group A and qualify for the finals in Russia in 2018.
France lead on seven points along with Sweden, who won 3-0 against Bulgaria, while Netherlands are third on four points.
Although each country still has seven matches left, France’s win over the team expected to be their toughest opposition in the section hands Didier Deschamps’ side a huge advantage.
Pogba hit his shot from midway between the halfway line and the edge of the Dutch penalty area and it swerved wickedly to fox goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who might have done better with his diving effort as he tried to save it.
The Netherlands made vociferous claims for a penalty four minutes before halftime when the ball struck Laurent Koscielny’s arm as he dived to block Vincent Janssen’s close-range shot but Slovenian referee Damir Skomina turned down the Dutch appeals. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)