France defender Benjamin Pavard made a spectacular comeback to the team as his superb second-half strike saw them beat Ireland 1-0 away in Euro 2024 qualifying Group B on Monday.
Pavard, cast aside at last year’s World Cup after a woeful opening game, struck from 18 metres to put France on six points from two games after Friday’s 4-0 drubbing of the Netherlands.
France goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who took over as No.1 after Hugo Lloris’s international retirement, denied the hosts an equaliser with a stunning save in the last minute, three days after stopping a penalty at the Stade de France.
France lead the group ahead of second-placed Greece, who have three points having only played once, with the Dutch third on goal difference after beating Gibraltar 3-0 at home.
“It’s never easy against such an aggressive team. We were ahead but then they threatened on set pieces. We were solid, it’s a good two games even if today’s was not as good as Friday’s,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.
Netherlands defender Nathan Ake scored twice and Memphis Depay also got on the scoresheet as the hosts laboured to a 3-0 home win over 10-man Gibraltar in Rotterdam.
Depay put the hosts ahead at halftime and Ake’s double came after the break in another unconvincing Dutch performance, this time against one of Europe’s smallest football nations.
The Dutch had 48 efforts on goal but only 11 on target, showing little of the sharpness coach Ronald Koeman had been looking for in a reaction to their 4-0 loss in Paris on Friday.
“We were sloppy in possession. It was a very difficult evening,” said Dutch skipper Virgil van Dijk.
Dušan Vlahovic was not fully fit at the World Cup and Serbia went home early without a win, finishing last in a group from which Brazil and Switzerland advanced.
The Juventus forward was sharp on Monday, scoring with a pair of left-footshots late in a 2-0 victory at Montenegro.
Hungary captain Dominik Szoboszlai scored perhaps the goal of the night in a 3-0 win over Bulgaria. Szoboszlai fired in a fast, dipping free-kick from 25 yards into the top right corner of the Bulgaria goal. That lifted Hungary to a two-goal lead after just 26 minutes of its first game in qualifying and it was 3-0 by halftime.
Substitute Jesper Karlsson scored a brilliant late free-kick and Anthony Elanga added a superb solo goal as Sweden hammered Azerbaijan 5-0 in their Group F match on Monday.
After a terrible team performance against Belgium, the Swedes came out all guns blazing. Emil Forsberg scored the first in the 38th minute. Sweden doubled their advantage when Bahlul Mustafazada steered an Isak cross into his own net. Viktor Gyokeres made it 3-0 with a tap-in from Karlstrom’s pass.