The French were held 1-1 by Ukraine inside an empty Stade de France outside Paris as an own goal from defender Presnel Kimpembe called off Antoine Griezmann’s opener in the 19th minute for the hosts.
A hat-trick from 35-year-old striker Burak Yilmaz earned Turkey a 4-2 victory over the Netherlands, whose qualifying record for major international tournaments has been sketchy in recent years.
The Dutch failed to make it to Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup in Russia and failed to show great form under new coach Frank De Boer, who only won two wins in seven matches since replacing Ronald Koeman.
They are in a tricky Group G which also includes Norway, who preceded their 3-0 victory over Gibraltar in the Spanish city of Malaga by lining up before kick-off wearing t-shirts over their jerseys from the national team carrying the message “HUMAN RIGHTS”. followed by “Respect on and off the pitch”.
It was an apparent statement on human rights violations in Qatar, which is under scrutiny due to its discriminatory laws and conditions for migrant workers who help build infrastructure for the FIFA World Cup. world.
There were wins for top-ranked Belgium, 3-1 over Wales, and reigning European champions Portugal, 1-0 over Azerbaijan. Portugal are one of the teams competing for their opening qualifiers in neutral territory – in their case, the Italian city of Turin – due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
Croatia, which lost to France in the 2018 World Cup final, had a disappointing start to their Group H campaign, losing 1-0 to Slovenia.