Kylian Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored twice, securing France and Portugal’s qualifications for the 2019 European Championship with perfect records. Belgium also secured a spot in Germany on Friday.
All three European powerhouses needed to qualify for the tournament, and their star strikers expertly achieved this. Mbappé secured a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in Amsterdam in Group B with his two goals, including a long-range strike for the second. He initiated the scoring in just the seventh minute when he deftly volleyed a cross from the right by Jonathan Clauss, beating Brighton goalkeeper Bert Verbruggen, who was making his debut for the Netherlands. He overcame the challenge of Lutsharel Geertruida.
Despite recent struggles with Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappé achieved his 41st international goal, drawing level with the French great Michel Platini. In the campaign, France conceded its first goal, but they secured a 2-1 win with 10 minutes remaining, thanks to Feyenoord midfielder Quilindschy Hartman, who made his first full international appearance. In Dublin, Greece climbed to second place with 12 points after Giakoumakis and Giorgos Masouras scored a goal each to defeat Ireland 2-0. The Netherlands are in third place with nine points and have a game in hand.
Ronaldo led Portugal and improved his record to 125 international goals in 202 appearances, guiding his team to a 3-2 victory over Slovakia. In the 29th minute, Ronaldo converted from the penalty spot, doubling the lead to 2-0 and deceiving Slovakia’s goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka. Earlier, forward Goncalo Ramos had given the hosts the lead with a headed goal. In the second half, after David Hancko pulled one back for Slovakia, Ronaldo reestablished a two-goal advantage with a low cross from Bruno Fernandes, finding him at the far post. In Porto, he celebrated his seventh goal in six qualifying games in his trademark style.
The second goal for Slovakia was scored by Stanislav Lobotka in the 80th minute. With three games remaining, Portugal has a 100% record with a goal difference of 27-2, marking the best-ever performance in a European qualifying campaign. Slovakia became the first team to score against Portugal in this campaign. Slovakia currently occupies second place with 13 points, while Luxembourg is two points behind in third place, having secured a 1-1 draw with Iceland in Reykjavik.
Belgium had to persevere with 10 men to secure advancement from Group F by defeating Austria 3-2 in Vienna. They witnessed the continued success of Romelu Lukaku, who added more goals, and Dodi Lukébakio, who contributed two goals. In the 58th minute, Lukaku extended the lead to 3-0 by collecting a precise pass from Jérémy Doku and beating goalkeeper Alexander Schlager. Merely three minutes after Lukébakio scored his second goal, the Red Devils solidified their lead in the 12th minute, as Lukébakio deftly maneuvered down the right side and netted from a tight angle inside the far post. This marked the first international goal for the Sevilla forward.
In the 72nd minute, Austria’s Konrad Laimer managed to score one goal back, and six minutes later, Belgium was reduced to 10 men as midfielder Amadou Onana was issued a second booking. In the 84th minute, Marcel Sabitzer scored Austria’s second goal from the penalty spot, yet the hosts couldn’t find an equalizer.
Belgium currently leads with 16 points from six games, while Austria, following their first loss in qualifying, is three points behind. Sweden, who had a day of inactivity on Friday, currently occupies third place with six points from five games, retaining a slight possibility of surpassing Austria.