France, Portugal and Belgium all secured their spots for the Euro 2024 tournament scheduled to take place in Germany from June 14 – July 14. France, Portugal and Belgium all made an impression during qualifying matches to cement their standing as top contenders.
World Cup runners-up France continued its outstanding performances by defeating Netherlands with a score of 2-1 in Group B. Kylian Mbappe proved decisive as France’s star forward scored two key goals to lead them home. France have not missed a Euro finals tournament since 1988 and proved it once again at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Kylian Mbappe scored an early goal after receiving a perfect cross from Jonathan Clauss; Mbappe then netted another early strike off a corner kick by Anthony Martial just seven minutes into play. Mbappe put paid to any hopes of a comeback for the Netherlands before halftime by scoring in the 53rd minute – his 42nd international goal! Griezmann currently ranks fourth on France’s all-time scoring list, trailing behind Olivier Giroud, Thierry Henry and himself (he recently participated in his 81st consecutive match for France).
In another exciting match, Portugal also maintained their perfect record in Group J, defeating Slovakia 3-2 at home. The Portuguese side displayed their attacking prowess, securing their place in Euro 2024.
Belgium, another football powerhouse, qualified from Group F with a 3-2 away victory against Austria. They showcased their strength and skill, ensuring their presence at the tournament in Germany.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland’s dreams of Euro 2024 qualification were dashed with a comprehensive 2-0 home defeat by Greece. Giorgos Giakoumakis and Giorgos Masouras scored first-half goals for Greece, leaving the Irish campaign in Group B in disarray. Manager Stephen Kenny faced mounting criticism as his team managed to secure just three points from their first six games, with their only victory coming against Gibraltar. Despite Kenny’s efforts to rejuvenate the squad with young and hungry players, the results were simply not forthcoming.
Greece, who already had a play-off place secured via the Nations League, showed their superiority in both attack and defense. They now have 12 points, leaving them hopeful of causing upsets in their upcoming matches against the Netherlands and France.
For Kenny and the Republic of Ireland, it’s a time for reflection and evaluation as they face a chorus of disapproval and growing apathy from their supporters.