France, Belgium through to Qatar with easy victories


While Kilian Mbappe’s four goals in an 8-0 defeat of Kazakhstan allowed the reigning French champion to advance to the next year’s World Cup alongside victorious Belgium, the Netherlands were unable to join them, conceding two late goals.

Belgium lost 3-1 to Estonia at home, but has an undeniable five-point lead over second-place Wales, who beat Belarus 5-1 in Cardiff and three points ahead of the Czech Republic in the playoffs.

Having missed the last World Cup, the Dutch looked poised to win, leading 2-0 in Montenegro with goals from Memphis Depay.

However, Montenegro has scored twice in the last eight minutes to bring the score to 2-2, giving Turkey and Norway a chance to take first place as they are two points behind and one game left.

Turkey has a narrow +1 advantage over Norway on goal difference ahead of Tuesday’s group finals, where the result could be decisive.

Norway travels to the Netherlands without the prolific Haaland and Montenegro takes over Turkey.

Mimicking Fontaine

Mbappe became the first player for the French national team since Just Fontaine at the 1958 World Cup, who scored four times in one game.

After 32 minutes, he scored his first international hat-trick.

The runner-up makes the playoffs and Finland has a chance, though next time it will host a runaway France.

The Finns won 3-1 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite playing over 50 minutes with less player to overtake Ukraine and finish second.

Romelu Lukaku was not ahead of Belgium as he was recovering from a minor injury, so Christian Benteke intervened and brought his team forward against Estonia 11 minutes later.

Aaron Ramsey was even faster, taking three minutes to bring Wales 1-0, while Liverpool defender Neko Williams doubled the lead in 20th.

Shortly after the break from the penalty spot Ramsey score 3: 0.

Yannick Carrasco and Thorgan Azard scored second-half goals for Belgium, while goals from Ben Davis and Conner Roberts ended a beautiful evening for Wales, which then hosts Belgium.

Results: Group D: Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 (Menalo 69) lost to Finland 3 (Forss 29, Lod 51, O’Shaughnessy 73); France 8 (Mbappe 6, 12, 32, 87, Benzema 55, 59, Rabiot 75, Griezmann 84-pins) bt Kazakhstan 0.

Group E: Wales 5 (Ramsey 3, 50-pins, N. Williams 20, B. Davis 77, K. Roberts 89) bt Belarus 1 (Kontsevoy 87); Belgium 3 (Benteke 11, Carrasco 53, T. Hazard 74) and Estonia 1 (Sorga 70).

Group G: Norway 0 drew with Latvia 0; Turkey 6 (Kerem Aktyurkoglu 11, Dervisoglu 38, 41, Demiral 65, Dursun 81, Mert Muldur 84) bt Gibraltar 0; Montenegro 2 (Vukotic 82, Vujnovic 86) drew with the Netherlands 2 (Depay 25-pins, 54)


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