LONDON: The Netherlands, Switzerland and Romania all secured places at Euro 2024 on Saturday, and France racked up the biggest-ever win in European Championship qualifying by beating Gibraltar 14-0.
The Netherlands needed a win over Ireland to be sure of qualifying and Wout Weghorst gave his team the lead in the 12th minute, blasting a shot into the top-right corner. The goal was awarded despite Weghorst appearing to pull on Ireland defender Nathan Collins’ jersey just before he received the ball.
The Netherlands had 18 shots to Ireland’s three but couldn’t score again.
“We can be proud of ourselves and we certainly are now that we’re going to the European Championship,” Netherlands captain Virgil Van Dijk told Dutch broadcaster NOS.
“With all the problems, injuries we’ve had, we’ve still managed it. Now we can start preparing.”
Switzerland drew 1-1 with Kosovo to make sure of qualifying and continue a run of not missing any major tournament since Euro 2012. But the game continued a troubling Swiss trend to let leads slip.
Switzerland dominated possession but couldn’t get through the Kosovo defense until Ruben Vargas headed in a deflected ball in the 47th. Kosovo’s Muhamet Hyseni leveled the score in the 82nd with a shot in off the post. It was Switzerland’s fifth draw in six games, and in all of those draws Switzerland conceded at least one goal after the 80th minute.
A draw was enough for Switzerland to qualify because Romania won 2-1 against third-place Israel.
Romania recovered from Israel’s Eran Zahavi scoring in the second minute, responding with goals from George Pușcaș and Ianis Hagi. Israel were the official host team but Saturday’s game was played in Hungary because of the Israel-Hamas war.
Romania qualified for their first major tournament since 2016 after missing the last European Championship despite being one of the host nations. Israel miss out on an automatic qualifying spot but go into the playoffs because of their Nations League record. That means Norway and star striker Erling Haaland can no longer reach the playoffs and will not play at Euro 2024.
Belarus beat Andorra 1-0 in the other game in the group.
RECORD WIN FOR FRANCE
France’s 14 goals against Gibraltar broke the team’s record for their biggest-ever win and also set a record for the competition.
Kylian Mbappe had a hatt rick as nine different French players scored goals, with one own-goal for Gibraltar. France’s previous biggest win was a 10-0 victory over Azerbaijan in 1995. The previous record in European Championship qualifying was Germany’s 13-0 win over San Marino in 2006. France had already qualified for next year’s tournament.
CROATIA EDGE AHEAD
Croatia are on the verge of qualifying after beating Latvia 2-0 as their closest rival Wales dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Armenia.
Early goals from Lovro Majer and Andrej Kramarić gave Croatia a comfortable victory at last-place Latvia.
Croatia can secure a qualifying spot on Tuesday with a win over Armenia in their last game or if Wales fail to beat Group D leader Turkiye.
Lucas Zelarayan put Armenia ahead with a shot from the edge of the penalty area after Wales failed to clear a corner. Wales were level following Nair Tiknizyan’s own-goal. The draw meant Armenia’s slim chances of qualifying were ended when Croatia won their game.
Ahead of the game, the Football Association of Wales confirmed 32 Welsh fans had been arrested in Armenia.
TURKEY BEAT GERMANY
Germany’s new coach Julian Nagelsmann had a setback in his first home game with a 3-2 friendly loss to Turkiye, who had heavy support in Berlin. Germany are hosting the European Championship next year and Turkiye have qualified.