Berlin, Mar 28 (IANS): Benjamin Pavard's goal saw France edge Ireland to lead Group B in a tough Euro 2024 qualifying fixture in Dublin, while the Netherlands and Hungary claimed victories in less stressful encounters.
Pavard's strike from distance in the 50th minute ensured Les Bleus two straight wins in their qualifying campaign. The 2022 FIFA World Cup runners-up were restricted to few chances in the opening half, but Pavard cut out a Josh Cullen pass just outside the Ireland area before arrowing a strike, reports Xinhua.
The Netherlands bounced back after being thrashed by France on Friday as they won 3-0 over Gibraltar. Memphis Depay's header in the 23rd minute gave the hosts a deserved lead midway through the first half, before Nathan Ake nodded in a second four minutes after the restart.
Gibraltar suffered the majority of their second half with only 10 players on the pitch after Liam Walker was sent off for a high challenge on Netherlands debutant Mats Wieffer. Ronald Koeman's team capitalized on their numerical advantage later on as Ake got his second of the game in the 83rd minute.
Estonia took a first-half lead in Linz against Austria in Group F, but Florian Kainz responded with his first international goal and Michael Gregoritsch scored the winner for Austria in the second half. Sweden celebrated a 5-0 home success against Azerbaijan.
Moldova played out a goalless draw with the Czech Republic in Group E, while Poland earned a 1-0 home victory against Albania.
Hosts Hungary cruised to an eye-catching 3-0 win against Bulgaria to begin their Group G campaign. Hungary have won seven of its last eight Euro qualifier matches.
In a contest between neighbors in Podgorica in Group G, Serbia overcame the hosts Montenegro, as Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic struck twice in the closing stages.