France draw again as Dutch roll in World Cup qualifying


Paris (AFP) – World Cup holders France stuttered again in their bid to qualify for the 2022 finals in Qatar after a 1-1 draw in Ukraine, while Memphis Depay inspired the Netherlands to a rout of Montenegro on Saturday.

France drew their fifth successive match as Anthony Martial scored his first international goal in five years to earn Didier Deschamps’ side a point in Kiev.

The Manchester United forward, who missed Euro 2020 with a knee injury, grabbed just his second goal in 29 caps to cancel out a fine first-half strike by Ukraine midfielder Mykola Shaparenko.

Les Bleus remain four points clear at the top of Group D but have played two games more than Finland, who they host in Lyon on Tuesday. Joel Pohjanpalo’s second-half effort clinched Finland a 1-0 victory over Kazakhstan.

Ukraine have now drawn all five of their qualifiers so far, including both matches against France.

Depay led the Netherlands to a 4-0 defeat of Montenegro in Eindhoven that kept Louis van Gaal’s team right behind Group G leaders Turkey, who won 3-0 in Gibraltar.

Barcelona star Depay opened the scoring for the Dutch with a penalty and netted a second on the hour. Captain Georginio Wijnaldum added a slick third and Cody Gakpo bagged his first goal for the national team with a terrific curling shot. 

Erling Haaland converted a spot-kick as he scored for the second game running in Norway’s 2-0 win against Latvia, with Mohamed Elyounoussi also on target in Oslo.

Norway and the Netherlands are both a point back of Turkey, who go to Amsterdam next week.

Marcelo Brozovic’s late goal gave Croatia a 1-0 victory away to Slovakia, ensuring the 2018 World Cup runners-up stayed level with Russia in Group H.

Russia beat Cyprus 2-0 away while Slovenia won 1-0 at home to Malta.

Denmark needed an 85th-minute effort from Jonas Wind to see off the Faroe Islands 1-0 and record a fifth win in as many outings in Group F.

Eran Zahavi followed up his hat-trick against the Faroes in midweek with two more goals to power Israel past Austria 5-2.

Scotland moved above Austria into third place as Lyndon Dykes’ early strike sealed a 1-0 home win over Moldova.

Aleksandar Mitrovic struck twice as Serbia defeated Luxembourg 4-1 to edge above Portugal on goal difference at the top of Group A. 

A late Shane Duffy equaliser salvaged the Republic of Ireland a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Azerbaijan.

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