WARSAW (Reuters) - Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick, two of them from penalties, to lead Poland to a 3-1 win over Romania which kept them top of their World Cup qualifying group on Saturday.
The Poles, who have 16 points from six games, enjoy a six-point lead over Montenegro and Denmark in Group E, while Romania remained in fourth with six points as their chances of a first World Cup appearance since 1998 receded.
Montenegro beat Armenia 4-1 with a Stevan Jovetic hat-trick and Denmark won 3-1 in Kazakhstan.
Lewandowski took his tally in the qualifiers to 11, pulling alongside Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Romania, beaten 3-0 at home by Poland earlier in the group, defended well until Lewandowski was pulled to the ground in the area in the 29th minute.
The Bayern Munich forward got up and fired his penalty past Ciprian Tatarusanu who went the right way but was still powerless to stop the shot.
Lewandowski struck again 12 minutes into the second half when he met a Piotr Zielinski corner with a bullet header.
Five minutes later, Zielinski was fouled and Lewandowski converted his second penalty of the night to leave Romania floundering.
Poland were missing suspended defender Kamil Glik and the visitors managed to pull one back when Bogdan Stancu’s 25-metre shot took a deflection of Michal Pazdan and flew past Wojciech Szczesny.
Nicolai Jorgensen gave Denmark the lead in Kazakhstan with a half volley and the hosts were in more trouble when Baurzhan Islamhan was given a straight red card two minutes before the break.
Christian Eriksen doubled Denmark’s lead with a penalty and teenager Kasper Dolberg scored the third, with Islambek Kuat replying in between.
Reporting by Bartosz Chmielewski; Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar