ESPN News Service4 min read
Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored twice to help France and Portugal seal their place in next year’s European Championship with perfect qualifying records, while Belgium also booked their place in Germany on Friday.
All three European powerhouses needed a win to qualify for the tournament and their star forwards ensured they got it.
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Mbappe’s two goals, including the second from long-range, helped his team beat the Netherlands 2-1 in Amsterdam for their sixth perfect victory in Group B.
Mbappe opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he beat Lutsharel Giltruida and volleyed past Brighton goalkeeper Bert Welbrugh from Jonathan Krause’s cross from the right. Root, this is his debut for the Dutch team.
It was Mbappe’s 41st international goal, tying him with France star Michel Platini, who scored despite his recent poor form with Paris Saint-Germain.
“I don’t need to worry, especially Kylian,” France coach Didier Descamps said. “He showed today that there is nothing to worry about.
“When he does that, obviously France have a better chance of winning.”
In the 53rd minute, Mbappe exchanged passes with Adrien Rabiot on the edge of the Dutch penalty area and then shot past Verbruggen to extend the lead.
Feyenoord midfielder Quilinski Hartmann made his first official appearance for the national team, making it 2-1 with 10 minutes left in the game. This is the first goal the French team has conceded this season.
In Dublin, Giakoumakis and George Masoulas scored a goal each as Greece defeated Ireland 2-0 and moved into second place with 12 points.
The Netherlands are still in third place with nine points, despite having a game in hand.
The top two teams in each group qualify directly.
Ronaldo’s brace raised his tally to 125 goals in 202 international games and led Portugal to a 3-2 victory over Slovakia.
In the 29th minute, Ronaldo took a penalty kick, but Slovak goalkeeper Martin Dubravka missed the opportunity to extend the lead to 2-0.
Forward Goncalo Ramos gave the home side the lead with a header 11 minutes from time.
After David Hanko pulled a goal back for Slovakia in the second half, Ronaldo restored the two-goal advantage from Bruno Fernandez’s low cross at the far post.
After scoring his seventh goal in Porto’s six qualifying games, he leapt high in the air in front of Jubilant Porto fans in a trademark celebration.
Portugal coach Roberto Martinez said after the game: “Cristiano is in good form. He has played a lot of minutes for the club and scored a lot of goals.”
“He has a lot of experience in the national team and he is an inspiration and reference for the young people. We are all trying our best. This is not an individual game but a collective game.”
Stanislav Lobotka scored Slovakia’s second goal in the 80th match.
With three games left, the Portuguese team has won seven games in a row, with a 100% record and a goal difference of 27-2, the best performance in European qualifying history. Slovakia were the first team to score against Portugal.
Slovakia is second with 13 points after a 1-1 draw with Iceland in Reykjavik, while Luxembourg is two points behind in third.
Bosnia moved into fourth place in nine games with a 2-0 win over meaningless Liechtenstein, with Iceland two points adrift.
Romelu Lukaku scored again and Dodi Lukbakio added two more as Belgium, playing with 10 men, beat Austria 3-2 in Vienna to advance from Group F.
In the 58th minute, Lukaku received a precise pass from Jérémy Doku and beat goalkeeper Alexander Schlager to make the score 3-0. Keogh scored the second goal just three minutes later.
Lukaku topped the qualifying scoring charts with nine goals in six games, taking his tally for the national team to 79.
Luke Bacchio broke down the right before tapping home from a tight Angel inside the far post to give the Red Devils the lead in the 12th. This is the Sevilla striker’s first international goal.
Konrad Laimer pulled a goal back for Austria in the 72nd and six minutes later Belgium midfielder Amadou Onana was sent off for a second yellow card. A penalty was sent off and the game was down to 10 men. Marcel Sabitzer scored Austria’s second penalty in the 84th, but the hosts failed to equalize.
Belgium have 16 points from six games, with Austria trailing by three points after their first defeat in qualifying.
Sweden, who were idle on Friday, sit third with six points from five games and still have a slim chance of overtaking Austria.
The Associated Press, Reuters and ESPN’s Adriana Garcia contributed to this report.