European Qualifiers: Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland seal EURO 2024 spots
New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Sixteen of the 24 teams that will contest next summer’s UEFA EURO 2024 finals are now known after the Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland secured their places with a game to spare.
The Netherlands beat Ireland 1-0 on Saturday night thanks to Wout Weghorst’s first-half drive that secured the three points necessary for the Dutch to claim second place in Group B.
Ronald Koeman’s side often had difficulty breaking down the visitors’ solid back line, although they enjoyed territorial superiority and came closest to doubling their lead when goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who made a string of saves, touched a stinging Tijjani Reijnders shot onto a post. But, Weghorst’s strike proved sufficient, as the hosts celebrated booking their place with a lap of honour at a packed Johan Cruijff ArenA.
Murat Yakin’s Switzerland secured their spot at the finals despite playing out 1-1 draw with Kosovo in Basel. Kosovo substitute Muhamet Hyseni’s late equaliser, a low effort in off the upright from a tight angle, cancelled out Ruben Vargas’ close-range header shortly after the interval.
Denied by visiting keeper Visar Bekaj in the first half, Vargas reacted quickest after Denis Zakaria’s initial effort was blocked to score for a second qualifier running.
On the other hand Romania did enough to qualify for EURO 2024, edging out Israel 2-1 in a game played in Felcsut, Hungary.
Eran Zahavi headed Israel in front inside two minutes, planting in a header at the far post when Miguel Vitór nodded a corner in his direction. However, Romania responded quickly, George Puscas tidying up after Denis Dragus splendid strike from distance smacked into the crossbar.
Ianis Hagi got the winner just after the hour, drilling a low shot into the bottom corner, but Valentin Mihaila’s late dismissal set up a nervy finale.
Elsewhere, already-qualified France set a new EURO qualifying record win with a 14-0 victory against ten-man Gibraltar.
Captain Kylian Mbappe struck a hat-trick, including an impressive long-distance effort for his third. Warren Zaïre-Emery became the side’s second-youngest goalscorer on his Les Bleus’ debut, with Kingsley Coman and sub Olivier Giroud both hitting two.
Croatia leapfrogged Wales to take control of their qualification destiny with a 2-0 win in Latvia, Lovro Majer and Andrej Kramaric on target in the space of nine first-half minutes.
Wales drew 1-1 in Armenia, an own goal cancelling out Lucas Zelarayan’s opener.