France disappoint; Belgium, Turkey put up staggering show at European qualifiers

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Kolkata: World Champions France were held to a 1-1 draw against Ukraine while Turkey stunned the Netherlands 4-2 in the European qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022 on Wednesday (March 24). Belgium made a comeback to beat Wales 3-1 in Group E.

 

Turkey gave a surprise on the day getting better of Netherlands in Istanbul in a Group G game, thanks to a Burak Yilmaz hat-trick at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium. The veteran Turkish captain scored twice in the first-half before Hakan Çalhanoğlu added one just seconds after the break.

The Dutch looked like making a comeback as Davy Klaassen scored a sublime one in the 75th minute with Luuk de Jong got another just a minute later. Yilmaz put end to the Dutch hopes by a scoring sumptuous free-kick to restore the two-goal advantage for the hosts. Turkish goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir saved a penalty from Memphis Depay in the added time to secure a thrilling win.

Meanwhile, France had a disappointing start to their qualifying campaign in Group D in Paris. Antoine Griezmann’s 19th minute stunner at the Stade de France put the Les Bleus ahead. However, Ukraine hit back in the second half through an own goal by Presnel Kimpembe after Serhiy Sydorchuk’s shot took a big deflection beating goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

On the other hand, a star-stacked Belgium made a fine comeback after going down 0-1 early. The visitors took an early lead with their first attack as Connor Roberts and Gareth Bale combined setting up Harry Wilson to finish it off.

However, the World No.1 side responded brilliantly as Kevin De Bruyne smashed home the equaliser before Thorgan Hazard, who had a great outing extended the lead. A Romelu Lukaku penalty in the 73rd minute completed a fine comeback for Roberto Martinez’s side.

Portugal also secured a narrow 1-0 win Azerbaijan in Group A. The 36th-minute winner came at the Allianz Stadium in Turin through an own goal as Azerbaijan goalkeeper Shahruddin Mahammadaliyev tried to punch the ball out of the area before it got ricocheted into the net off captain Maksim Medvedev.

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