France, Portugal, Belgium clinch Euro 2024 qualification



Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored twice to help France and Portugal secure a place in next year’s European Championship with a perfect qualifying record, and Belgium also secured a berth in Germany on Friday.

All three European powerhouses needed a win to qualify for the tournament and their star strikers made sure they got them.

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Mbappe’s two goals — including a long-range strike for the second — helped the Netherlands secure a 2-1 victory in Amsterdam for a perfect sixth win in Group B.

Mbappe opened the scoring in just the seventh minute when he beat Lutsharel Geertruida from the right to beat Brighton goalkeeper Bert Verbruggen, who was making his debut for the Netherlands, from Jonathan Kloss’s cross.

It was Mbappe’s 41st international goal, which puts him level with France great Michel Platini, and came despite recent struggles with Paris Saint-Germain.

“I’m not worried, especially not about Kylian,” said France coach Didier Descamps. “He showed today there is nothing to worry about.

“When he’s like this, obviously France has a better chance of winning.”

Mbappe doubled the lead in the 53rd minute when he exchanged passes with Adrien Rabiot on the edge of the Netherlands penalty area before curling a shot past Verbruggen.

Feyenoord midfielder Kwilindski Hartmann, making his first full international appearance, made it 2-1 with 10 minutes remaining. It was France’s first goal of the campaign.

Greece beat Ireland 2-0 in Dublin to move up to second with 12 points thanks to goals from Giacomakis and Giorgos Masouras.

The Netherlands are not in third position with one match in hand.

The top two teams from each group qualify directly.

Ronaldo’s double took his record tally of international goals to 125 in 202 matches and led Portugal to a 3-2 win over Slovakia.

In the 29th minute, Ronaldo doubled the lead to 2-0 with a penalty that sent Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka the wrong way.

Forward Goncalo Ramos gave the hosts a head start 11 minutes ago.

After David Hanko pulled one back for Slovakia in the second half, Ronaldo restored a two-goal advantage with a low cross from Bruno Fernandes that found him at the far post.

He jumped high in his trademark celebration in front of roaring fans in Porto after scoring his seventh goal in six qualifying games.

“Cristiano is in a good moment of form, he’s playing a lot of minutes and scoring a lot of goals for his club,” Portugal coach Roberto Martinez said afterwards.

“He has a lot of experience in the national team, he is a motivator and a reference for the youngsters. We are all doing our best. It is not an individual game, it is a collective game.”

Stanislav Lobotka scored the second goal for Slovakia in the 80th minute.

With three games remaining, Portugal have recorded a 100% record after seven straight wins with a 27-2 record, their best ever performance in a European qualification campaign. Slovakia scored the first goal against Portugal.

Slovakia remain in second place on 13 points and Luxembourg are two points behind in third after Iceland drew 1-1 in Reykjavík.

Bosnia won 2-0 away to bottomless Liechtenstein and Iceland are two further back in fourth place at number nine.

Romelu Lukaku scored again and Dodi Lukaku added two more for Belgium, who had to fight back with 10 men to beat Austria 3-2 in Vienna and secure progression from Group F.

After Lukaku beat goalkeeper Alexander Schlager to collect a precise pass from Jeremy Docu in the 58th, Lukaku also scored his second to make it 3-0 just three minutes later.

Lukaku took his international tally to 79 at the top of the scoring table in qualifying with nine goals in six matches.

Lookebackio broke right before netting inside the far post from tight end Angel to put the Red Devils ahead in the 12th. It was the Sevilla forward’s first international goal.

Konrad Leimer pulled one back for Austria in the 72nd and Belgium went down to 10 men six minutes later when midfielder Amadou Onana was sent off for a second booking. Marcel Sabitzer scored Austria’s second goal from the penalty spot in the 84th but the hosts were unable to equalise.

Belgium have 16 points from six games, three points behind Austria after their first defeat in the qualifiers.

Sweden, inactive on Friday, are third with six points from five games and still have little chance of overtaking Austria.

The Associated Press, Reuters and ESPN’s Adriana Garcia contributed to this report.



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