Soccer

UEFA World Cup qualifiers: Antoine Griezmann fires France to win over Finland; Depay, Haaland net hat tricks

Players will start filtering back to their clubs after the UEFA-based World Cup qualifiers reach an end for this window. On Tuesday, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Portugal were all convincing winners. 

Antoine Griezmann struck twice as the French beat Finland while Memphis Depay scored three of the six Dutch goals in an annihilation of Turkey. Erling Haaland left it late to register his latest treble as the Norwegians thumped minnows Gibraltar.

Let’s recap the day’s best:

Golden Griezmann

Karim Benzema’s return to Lyon was overshadowed as Griezmann scored twice to secure a 2-0 win for France which keeps Finland at arms’ length in Group D after unsatisfactory draws with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine. Without the injured Kylian Mbappe and under pressure after two points from a possible six, Didier Deschamps took the opportunity to restore Les Bleus to something closer to the system they won the 2018 World Cup in, and it produced the desired result.

A goal in each half for Griezmann was a welcome return to form for the Atletico Madrid man and his brace now moves him to a tie for third in the all-time scoring charts for the French, who lead by seven points over the Ukrainians. While it might not be their absolute best, the result was much needed for Deschamps and his team in the face of criticism that the team lost its identity and much of what made France successful since their World Cup triumph three years ago in Russia.

Depay’s Dutch delight

The Netherlands continued their return to form under Louis Van Gaal with Depay scoring three of their six goals and assisting another as Oranje ran riot against Turkey with the Barcelona man now level with Johan Cruyff for international goals. Davy Klaassen, Guus Til and Donyell Malen also found the back of the net to make it seven points from a possible nine under Van Gaal in Group G and to move the Dutch closer to booking a place in Qatar after the disaster of Frank De Boer’s tenure.

Haaland high

Haaland, the Borussia Dortmund star, was also celebrating a hat trick on Tuesday with three of Norway’s five goals as they mauled Gibraltar to remain level on points with the Netherlands but ahead of the Turkish by two points. Haaland scored twice in the first half and once at the death as Kristian Thorstvedt and Alexander Sorloth were also on the mark to keep the Scandinavians in contention for one of the top two spots with Turkey up next.

Damaging Denmark

The surprise team of this summer’s Euros continued their fine form with a 5-0 hammering of Israel to remain top of Group F with a 100% record and not even a single goal conceded as five different players hit the net in Copenhagen. Yussuf Poulsen, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Skov Olsen, Thomas Delaney, and Andreas Cornelius all scored as the Danes eased to another win over an Israeli side who dispatched a poor Austrian outfit 5-2 just days before — the same side seen off by Scotland on Tuesday.

Portugal win without Ronaldo

While Cristiano Ronaldo was training with his Manchester United teammates for the first time, his international teammates were winning 3-0 against Azerbaijan to open a two-point lead at the Group A summit after a late own goal pegged Serbia back against the Republic of Ireland. Three Hajduk Split youth products scored as Croatia beat Slovenia 3-0 with Marko Livaja, Mario Pasalic and Nikola Vlasic all on target, while Russia beat Malta 2-0 to tie both sides on 13 points in Group H.



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