TOMAS SOUCEK’S brisk hat-trick led the Czech Republic’s 6-2 rout of Estonia – but France and Holland were stunned on a lively first night of World Cup qualifiers.
The midfielder replicated his superb West Ham form, netting on 32, 43 and 48 minutes, as the Czechs roared back from behind.
Soucek had only bagged four goals in his previous 29 internationals.
France were held 1-1 at home by Ukraine, despite Barcelona striker Antoine Griezmann rewarding the World Cup champions’ confident start with a brilliant curling goal.
Serhiy Sydorchuk’s deflected shot wrong-footed home keeper Hugo Lloris for Ukraine’s 57th minute leveller.
Elsewhere, Maksim Medvedev’s freak own goal clinched Portugal’s 1-0 win over Azerbaijan.
Keeper Shahrudin Mahammadaliyev impressively defied Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Co but it was his punch on 37 minutes that went in off defender Medvedev.
The Republic of Ireland were rocked in the same group, losing 3-2 in Serbia.
Alan Browne headed the Republic in front but Dusan Vlahovic and sub Aleksandar Mitrovic’s two goals – one of them an incredible lob – turned the game.
James Collins replied late on but the Irish had little answer to the three assists for Serbia captain and Ajax star Dusan Tadic.
Arsenal loanee Martin Odegaard went off injured and Manchester United target Erling Haaland drew a blank despite playing the first 62 minutes as Norway won 3-0 in Gibraltar.
The Norwegians wore T-shirts with the message “Human rights on and off the pitch” to show support for Qatar migrant workers ahead of next year’s finals in the Middle Eastern nation.
Alexander Sorloth, Cristian Thorstvedt and Jonas Svensson netted.
Slovenia humbled 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia 1-0.
Nikola Vlasic hit the post before Sandi Lovric bagged a 15th-minute clincher at the other end, a heavily-deflected shot past Dominik Livakovic.
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