Holders France kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw at home against Ukraine on Wednesday, while Turkey secured an impressive 4-2 home win over the Netherlands , thanks to a hat-trick from Burak Yilmaz.
2018 finalists Croatia collapsed in a 1-0 loss to Slovenia, while Belgium continued their remarkable qualifying run coming from behind to beat Wales 3-1 at home .
The Czech Republic beat Estonia 6-2 in the biggest win of the night and Portugal beat Azerbaijan 1-0 with an own own goal.
Antoine Griezmann has handed France responsibility for their Group D game against Ukraine to move closer to David Trezeguet as his country’s fourth-top scorer.
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Ukraine, beaten 7-1 by France in a UEFA Nations League game last October, equalized in the second half with a goal against their own side of Presnel Kimpembe.
The visitors held the draw despite the lack of shots on target, although Kimpembe missed a chance to grab a winner at the last breath and correct his mistake.
The result left Didier Deschamps’ side and Ukraine on par with Finland and Bosnia in Group D after a 2-2 draw.
“Of course, I cannot be satisfied. But let’s be honest after the break, we didn’t really threaten them, ”said Deschamps.
Turkey have not qualified for the World Cup since their third place in the 2002 edition, but have got off to a good start in their attempt to reach Qatar next year by beating the Netherlands in the group G thanks to a ruthless performance of the 35-year-old. old Yilmaz.
Yilmaz opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a deflected shot followed by a penalty, while Hakan Calhanoglu caught Turkey’s third goal early in the second half before successive goals from Davy Klaasen and Luuk de Jong give the Netherlands hope for a comeback.
Yilmaz categorically ended those hopes by completing his hat-trick from a free kick.
“It was a beautiful evening. I’m so proud, ”said the forward, while Dutch coach Frank de Boer called the loss“ terrible ”.
Belgium got off to a bad start when Harry Wilson gave Wales the lead in the 10th minute of Group E, but Kevin de Bruyne and Thorgan Hazard quickly responded to put them in the lead before a Romelu Lukaku penalty won a 20th victory in 21 qualifiers for Roberto Martinez. side.
Qatar beat Luxembourg 10-man 1-0 in a friendly in Hungary thanks to a goal from striker Mohammed Muntari in the hosts’ first game of 2022 in a series of matches after being included as a team invited to Group A, although their matches are not. count for the qualification process.
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Elsewhere in Irish Group A, Portugal needed an own goal to beat Azerbaijan in their ‘home’ game, which was played in Turin due to coronavirus restrictions.
The clash of the night came in Ljubljana, however, where Slovenia celebrated a 1-0 win over neighboring Croatia thanks to Sandi Lovric’s backhanded goal.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic gave a brutal toll of his team’s defeat, remarking: “We did a poor performance and we deserved nothing more”.