Euro 2024 Qualifiers: France thrash Netherlands, Belgium too win their opening match

London, March 25 (IANS) World Cup runners-up France swept the Netherlands 4-0 in their opening group match at the Euro 2024 Qualifiers while Belgium outplayed Sweden 3-0 with Romelu Lukaku’s hat-trick.

The Netherlands’ suffering was even ahead of the match as five of their players were sent home on the eve of the game for catching the flu virus.

With Kylian Mbappe wearing the captain’s armband of the French national team for the first time, the hosts started their campaign perfectly in Paris as Antoine Griezmann curled in the opener after two minutes, reports Xinhua.

Six minutes later, French defender Dayot Upamecano tapped in a second, followed by Mbappe’s neat finish to make it 3-0 after 21 minutes. In the closing stages, Mbappe drove in to seal the 4-0 victory and climbed up to the fifth in France’s all-time scoring list with his tally of 38.

In the other encounter in Group B, Gibraltar lost to Greece 3-0.

Belgium won their opener in Group F comfortably as Inter Milan striker Lukaku found the net three times. But they have to trail behind Austria in the group standings after the Austrians beat Azerbaijan 4-1.

The Czech Republic defeated Poland 3-1 in Group E while Moldova and the Faroe Islands drew 1-1. In Group G, Bulgaria lost to Montenegro 1-0 and Serbia saw off Lithuania 2-0.

–IANS

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