YEREVAN (Reuters) - Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick to lead Poland to a 6-1 win in Armenia on Thursday which put them on the brink of clinching a World Cup place and made the prolific forward their all-time leading scorer.
The Group E leaders swept aside eliminated Armenia with three goals in the opening 25 minutes before Lewandowski took his tally to 50 goals in 90 appearances, overhauling Wlodziemierz Lubanski’s previous record of 48.
The Bayern Munich forward has also hit a remarkable 15 goals in nine games in the current qualifying campaign.
Poland have 22 points from nine matches and need one more at home to Montenegro on Sunday to clinch their place in Russia.
They could qualify later on Thursday if Montenegro and Denmark, level on 16 points from eight games, draw their match in Podgorica.
Kamil Grosicki gave Poland a dream start by rolling the ball into the net from close range at the near post in the second minute after Lukasz Piszczek got to the byline and pulled it back.
Lewandowski doubled their lead after 18 minutes when he curled a free kick over the wall and into the top corner after a foul on Piotr Zielinski.
Seven minutes later, Poland were gifted an indirect free kick from eight metres after Armenia defender Taron Voskanyan passed the ball back to goalkeeper Grigor Meliksetyan who picked it up.
Grosicki rolled the ball to Lewandowski who drilled his shot through a wall of defenders on the line to overhaul Lubanski’s record.
Hovhannes Hambardzumyan rose to head in from a corner and pull one back for Armenia six minutes before halftime.
But there was no stopping Poland and Jakub Blaszczykowski got on the scoresheet in the 57th minute, collecting the ball near the touchline before cutting inside and firing a low shot through Melitsetyan’s fingers.
Lewandowski took advantage of poor marking to complete his hat-trick from close range seven minutes later before substitute Rafal Wolski completed the rout in the 89th minute, scoring from close range after the home defence got into another tangle.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Ed Osmond