France, Belgium, Portugal survive late scares to reach Euro 2024

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France, Belgium, Portugal survive late scares to reach Euro 2024

France, Belgium and Portugal all blinked with a Euro 2024 place in their grasps but clung on for one-goal victories on Friday night which made them the first sides to qualify for next year’s tournament.

France forwards Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe em,brace after securing Euro 2024 qualification

France forwards Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe em,brace after securing Euro 2024 qualification© JOHN THYS

Belgium led by three goals in Vienna and won 3-2 with 10 men to ensure a top-two finish in Group F and a ticket to the finals in Germany.

France led by two Kylian Mbappe goals in Amsterdam and beat the depleted Dutch 2-1.

Cristiano Ronaldo was another to score twice but Portugal also wobbled with a two-goal lead before beating Slovakia 3-2 in Porto in Group J.

In Amsterdam, Mbappe leapt to hook home a volley after seven minutes and then added a second eight minutes into the second half with a sumptuous curler.

It was his 42nd international goal, overtaking French legend Michel Platini and putting him fourth in the all-time list.

Hartman replied on his Dutch debut but Mbappe almost clinched his hat-trick, when his late drive hit the crossbar.

“We mustn’t get carried away, but we must appreciate and not trivialise things,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.

“To qualify with two games to go, with six wins, 13 goals scored and just one conceded, I’m very proud of what the group has achieved, both in terms of spirit and on the pitch.”

“We got the result we wanted, we achieved our objective.”

Greece won 2-0 in Dublin to eliminate Ireland and pull clear of the Dutch.

Giorgos Giakoumakis and Giorgos Masouras scored in the first half for the 2004 European champions who moved three points clear of the Dutch.

The two nations meet on Monday in Athens.

– Ronaldo double –

Unbeaten Belgium survived an Austria fightback in Vienna.

Dodi Lukebakio, with his first two international goals, and captain Romelu Lukaku with his ninth of the campaign, put Belgium 3-0 up after 58 minutes.

Konrad Laimer replied with a long-range drive. With Belgium reduced to 10 men when Amadou Onana collected a second yellow card, Arthur Theate handled in his own box with six minutes left.

Marcel Sabitzer converted the penalty to make it an anxious last few minutes for the Belgians.

But they held out to secure a third straight trip to the Euros. The Red Devils’ last Euro qualifying loss was a 1-0 defeat in Wales in June 2015.

Austria remains seven points clear of idle Sweden, who have a game in hand.

Cristiano Ronaldo moved to 125 international goals as the Portuguese made it seven wins from seven matches in Group J.

They have 21 points which ensures them a top two finish.

Goncalo Ramos had opened the scoring for Portugal. Ronaldo then converted a penalty.

David Hancko’s deflected strike gave Slovakia hope – the first goal Portugal had conceded in qualifying – but Ronaldo soon tapped in a Bruno Fernandes cross. Stanislav Lobotka’s long-range strike made for a nervy finale but Portugal held on.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is having a great time, playing a lot of minutes and scoring a lot of goals for his club,” said Portugal coach Roberto Martinez.

“He has a lot of experience with the national team and he’s a reference point for young players.”

Slovakia stayed second in the group, but the pursuers inched closer.

Third-place Luxembourg drew 1-1 in Iceland to close to two points behind Slovakia who visit the Duchy on Monday.

Bosnia and Herzegovina are a further two points back after beating Liechtenstein 2-0 with first-half goals from Amar Rahmanovic and Miroslav Stevanovic.


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