Sports

France humiliate Netherlands; Lukaku scores hat-trick

There were quite a few eyebrows raised with some of the results from Euro 2024 qualifying on Friday night.

International football returned on Thursday with a bang and Friday’s action did not disappoint.

Here’s your roundup from Euros qualifying on March 24.

France 4-0 Netherlands

France v Netherlands - UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifiers

Friends again / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Ronald Koeman got off to the worst possible start back in charge of the Netherlands after falling to a 4-0 defeat at France.

Antoine Griezmann – in the headlines this week after he was snubbed to succeed Hugo Lloris as captain – opened the scoring just two minutes in at the Stade de France, with Dayot Upamecano adding another soon after.

With the Oranje scrambling, Kylian Mbappe – who did receive the armband – grabbed Les Bleus’ third with just 21 minutes on the clock. Koeman responded by turning to his bench and introducing Wout Weghorst for Kenneth Taylor before the break.

Though the Netherlands managed to stem the tide after the interval, Mbappe found the net late on with a superbly taken strike, sitting a couple of defenders down before powering into the far corner.

Upamecano gave away a penalty in stoppage time after handling the ball, though Mike Maignan saved Memphis Depay’s spot kick to cap off a miserable evening for the Netherlands, whose 20-match unbeaten run under Louis van Gaal was snapped at the first attempt by his successor.

Gibraltar 0-3 Greece

Elsewhere in Group B, Greece strolled to a routine 3-0 win away at Gibraltar.

Goals from Giorgos Masouras, Manolis Siopis and Anastasios Bakasetas helped Gus Poyet’s side to victory in the Algarve.

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Czech Republic 3-1 Poland

Similarly to Koeman with the Netherlands, Fernando Santos endured a miserable first game in charge of Poland.

Goals from Ladislav Krejci and Tomas Cvancara saw the Czech Republic race into a sizeable lead just three minutes in at the Fortuna Arena.

Jan Kuchta added the hosts’ third after the hour mark, with Damian Szymanski scoring a consolation for the visitors in the latter stages.

Moldova 1-1 Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands were denied a crucial win right at the last and left Moldova with just a point in Group E’s other game.

Mads Boe Mikkelsen broke the deadlock midway through the first half and the visitors led for much of the evening, only for Ion Nicolaescu to score a penalty with just minutes remaining at the Stadionul Zimbru.

Austria 4-1 Azerbaijan

Ralf Rangnick’s Austria made an impressive start to Euro 2024 qualifying with the dismantling of Azerbaijan.

Two goals from Manchester United midfielder Marcel Sabitzer and one from Michael Gregoritsch saw the Burschen go three up.

Emin Makhmudov pulled one back for Azerbaijan before Christoph Baumgartner quickly restored Austria’s three-goal cushion in Linz.

Sweden 0-3 Belgium

Romelu Lukaku, Yannick Carrasco

Lukaku was on fire / Linnea Rheborg/GettyImages

Unlike some of Europe’s other new managers, Domenico Tedesco enjoyed the perfect start with Belgium after tearing apart Sweden in Stockholm.

Romelu Lukaku headed home a wonderful cross from Dodi Lukebakio to give the Red Devils the lead, adding a second just after the break by squeezing the ball in at the near post.

A mesmerising run from Johan Bakayoko teed up Lukaku for his third as the Inter striker stole the show on a night which saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic make his return for Sweden.

Bulgaria 0-1 Montenegro

Montenegro left it late to beat Bulgaria on opening night in Razgrad.

Nikola Krstovic’s strike 20 minutes from time was all that separated the two sides, with the hosts made to pay for being wasteful with their 63% possession.

Serbia 2-0 Lithuania

Serbia bounced back from World Cup disappointment with a 2-0 win against Lithuania in Belgrade.

Star men Dusan Tadic and Dusan Vlahovic grabbed the goals as the Eagles comfortably won back on home soil.

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