2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers: Turkey stun Netherlands/France held by Ukraine - (2021)
Turkey 4 Netherlands 2 – Group E
Burak Yilmaz’s hat-trick sinks Netherlands
Netherlands' campaign begun on a sour note as they went down 2-4 to Turkey at Istanbul's Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night. Captain Burak Yilmaz opened the scoring when his deflected shot from the edge of the area off Matthijs de Ligt wrong-footed goalkeeper Tim Krul for the hosts' first in the 14th minute.
Yilmaz then converted a penalty in the 34th to double Turkey's lead after Donyell Malen's clumsy challenge on Okay Yokuslu inside the area. The game seemed effectively over when Hakan Calhanoglu added a third, a minute into the second half with a speculative curler from outside the box.
Davy Klaassen showed individual brilliance in reducing the deficit for the Dutch as he brought down a Memphis Depay cross with a subtle touch and then dinking past a couple of defenders to slam home from close range.
Frenkie De Jong swooped in to get his touch in from a dipping cross to make it 3-2 a minute later.
The visitors' comeback hopes were dashed when Yilmaz scored from a superb free-kick to restore Turkey's two-goal advantage. Netherlands earned a penalty three minutes into stoppage after Ozan Kabak tugged at De Ligt but Memphis Depay's effort was saved by goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir as a miserable night for the WC 2010 runners-up came to an end.
Belgium 3, Wales 1 – Group E
Belgians come from behind to beat Wales
Wales threatened to cause a major upset before falling to the superior Belgians in their opening fixture of the 2022 WC qualifiers at Lueven.
The visiting Welsh made an impressive start with Gareth Bale and Connor Roberts involved in a beautiful one-two passing move that fed Harry Wilson who finished with a side-footed effort into the far corner to give his side an early lead in the 10th minute.
Kevin De Bruyne equalized for the hosts when he was afforded sufficient time and space to lash in his effort from the edge of the area in the 22nd minute. The second goal for the Belgians came just 6 minutes later when Wales defender Connor Roberts slipped at a critical moment to allow Thorgan Hazard to head in freely from a Thomas Meunier cross.
Wales posed more of a threat in the second half, but their efforts were negated by Chris Mepham's wild challenge on Dries Mertens inside the area and a penalty conceded which Romelu Lukaku converted to make it 3-1 in the 73rd minute.
Unbeaten in competitive home fixtures since 2010, World No.1 Belgium are among the favourites to lift the 2022 World Cup, leave aside qualifying for it.
Serbia 3, Republic of Ireland 2 – Group A
Mitrovic brace does Ireland in
The Republic of Ireland's World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign got off to a disappointing start as they fell to a 3-2 loss to Serbia away in Belgrade on Wednesday night.
But it was the Irish who went into the lead when Endo Stevens fed Callum Robinson, who dodged past center-back Stefan Mitrovic and clipped a cross into Alan Browne whose downward header across a scrambling Serbian stopper Marko Dmitrovic entered into the corner of the net to give his country their first goal in 678 minutes.
The Serbians levelled before half-time when Dusan Vlahovic latched on to Dusan Tadic’s flick-on and let loose a left-foot shot past Irish keeper Mark Travers.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, introduced just beyond the hour mark, barely had to wait five minutes for his goal when he lobbed one over Travers to fire Serbia ahead in the 68th minute. The Fulham striker helped himself to a second in the 75th when he rose to meet Tadic’s cross and head one firmly in to make it 3-1.
James Collins profited from a defensive error from the Serbs to reduce the margin in the 86th minute but it wasn't enough as Ireland failed to salvage a point from the game.
Earlier Ireland coach Stephen Kenny thought that his side were denied a penalty as he was convinced that striker Aaron Connolly was clipped by Serbia's Stefan Mitrovic inside the area with the score reading 1-1.
Italian referee Davide Massa waved away Ireland's penalty appeals and instead awarded a corner, judging that Mitrovic had won the ball fairly.
France 1, Ukraine 1 – Group D
Kimpembe own goal helps Ukraine draw level with champions
World champions France were held to an unexpected 1-1 draw by Ukraine as they got their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in Group D under way at Stade de France on Wednesday.
The French began in dominant fashion and expectedly opened the scoring in the 19th minute through Antoine Griezmann who superbly curled in his left-footed effort into the corner from 18 yards.
Griezmann's strike put him up to a joint fourth place with David Trezeguet in the list of France's all-time top scorers with 34 goals. Olivier Giroud went close to doubling the hosts' advantage in the 32nd minute, but his header from Benjamin Pavard's cross sailed over the crossbar.
Ukraine, who defended stoically against French attacks found the equalizer in unexpected fashion when Sergiy Sydorchuk's weak attempt was deflected into his own net by defender Presnel Kimpembe 12 minutes into the second half.
France boss Didier Deschamps made two substitutions, sending Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembele in for Giroud and Kingsley Coman but the visiting Ukrainians hung on to secure a valuable point.
Results from other matches on Wednesday, March 24th
- Portugal 1-0 Azerbaijan (Group A)
- Finland 2-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina (Group D)
- Estonia 2-6 Czech Republic (Group E)
- Gibraltar 0-3 Norway (Group G)
- Latvia 1-2 Montenegro (Group G)
- Slovenia 1-0 Croatia (Group H)
- Malta 1-3 Russia (Group H)
- Cyprus 0-0 Slovakia (Group H)
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