Benjamin Pavard earned France a second victory in UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying, while Nathan Aké helped the Netherlands beat Gibraltar and Hungary made light work of Bulgaria.
Below is a round up of the Matchday 2 qualifying fixtures:
Republic of Ireland 0-1 France
Benjamin Pavard’s fine strike ensured Les Blues made it successive wins to start their EURO 2024 qualifying campaign. The 2022 FIFA World Cup runners-up were restricted to few chances in the opening half, but it took just five minutes after the interval for the breakthrough. Pavard cut out a Josh Cullen pass just outside the Irish area before arrowing a fierce strike into the net via the underside of the bar.
The visitors were indebted to Mike Maignan late on, the France keeper somehow clawing Nathan Collins’ header away from goal with just seconds remaining.
Netherlands 3-0 Gibraltar
Ronald Koeman’s team bounced back from Friday’s heavy defeat against France with a one-sided victory in Rotterdam. Memphis Depay’s looping header gave the hosts a deserved lead midway through the first half, before Nathan Aké nodded in a second four minutes after the restart.
Gibraltar had to play the majority of the second period with ten men after Liam Walker was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Netherlands debutant Mats Wieffer, and the Oranje capitalised on their numerical advantage late on as Aké got his second of the game – via a heavy deflection off John Sergeant.
Hungary 3-0 Bulgaria
The hosts cruised to an eye-catching win to begin their Group G campaign in style. Marco Rossi’s side were irresistible in the opening 45 minutes, Bálint Vécsei slamming home a close-range rebound to break the deadlock early on before talisman Dominik Szoboszlai capped a fine individual display with a sublime free-kick to double the lead.
Martin Ádám stroked a cool third before the interval but despite creating a host of opportunities to extend their advantage after the break, they did not manage to score a fourth.
England 2-0 Ukraine
Two goals in four minutes was enough for England at Wembley as they built on Thursday’s victory in Italy with another win. Visitors Ukraine frustrated Gareth Southgate’s team for over half an hour before Bukayo Saka’s cross found Harry Kane for his 55th international goal, a close-range volley. The Arsenal winger then struck himself with a delicious curling effort from the edge of the penalty area to effectively end the match as a contest. James Maddison went close to a third on his first international start, but England were comfortable winners despite his miss.
- Cristiano Ronaldo extended his record tallies for international goals and caps as he struck twice for Portugal in a 6-0 victory in Luxembourg. The 38-year-old marked his 198th outing by scoring twice – taking his Portugal haul to 122 in a match that also featured strikes from João Félix, Bernardo Silva, Otávio and Rafael Leão.
- Italy bounced back from their loss to England with a 2-0 success in Malta, Mateo Retegui notching his second goal for the Azzurri in his second appearance before Matteo Pessina doubled the advantage.
- Iceland enjoyed a landmark result as they prevailed 7-0 in Liechtenstein, the team’s biggest winning margin in an official match. Aron Gunnarsson contributed a second-half hat-trick, scoring more goals for his country in 16 minutes than in his previous 100 outings.
- Rasmus Højlund followed up his hat-trick against Finland with the opening two goals for Denmark in Kazakhstan, but the 20-year-old forward finished on the losing side as the hosts plundered three goals in the last 17 minutes to complete a remarkable comeback win.
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