France clinched their place in next year’s World Cup in Qatar with an 8-0 the thrashing of Kazakhstan at the Parc des Princes on Saturday. Kylian Mbappe scored four goals in the rout.
Karim Benzema scored twice, and Adrien Rabiot and Antoine Griezmann also scored, with Griezmann’s penalty giving him 42 goals for France, passing Michel Platini.
Only Thierry Henry (51 goals) and Olivier Giroud (46) have more for France.
The French will be joined in the finals by Belgium, after the world’s top-ranked team defeated Estonia 3-1 in Brussels to take first place in Group E, ahead of Gareth Bale’s Wales, who defeated Belarus 5-1 in Cardiff.
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The Netherlands, who were eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, appeared to be on track to join them as they led Montenegro 2-0 entering the final 10 minutes of their match in Podgorica.
However, the Dutch conceded two goals in the final ten minutes to draw the game 2-2. They are still top of Group G, but only by two points over Turkey and Norway.
France put on a spectacular show for their supporters on the sixth anniversary of the 2015 Paris attacks, which killed 130 people.
Mbappe started the party by putting the world champions ahead after only six minutes.
The Paris Saint-Germain star added a second six minutes later and completed his first hat-trick for France with a thunderous header shortly after the half-hour mark. With a 3-0 lead at the break, France turned up the heat even more in the second half, with Benzema scoring twice before Rabiot and Griezmann had their chances.
Mbappe had the final say, stroking home his fourth goal three minutes from time to complete the rout.
France leads Group D, with Finland and Ukraine vying for second place.
“A World Cup is a dream, an aim, it’s everything, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in a team that can win it.” “We’re going to win it over there,” Mbappe said.
After defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1, the Finns have a two-point lead heading into the final round of matches.
Jukka Raitala was sent off for the Finns before halftime, but goals from Brentford forward Marcus Forss, Robin Lod, and Daniel O’Shaughnessy sealed the victory.
Belgium had only dropped one point in qualifying up to this point, and they knew that a win over Estonia would guarantee them first place in Group E.
Manager Roberto Martinez, on the other hand, was missing first-choice strikers Romelu Lukaku, Mitchy Batshuayi, and Touri Tielemans, all of whom were injured.
Christian Benteke received a call-up as a result, and the Crystal Palace forward did not disappoint, scoring the opening goal after only 11 minutes.
“I know I’m only the third choice in the forward hierarchy, but I’m not giving up,” Benteke said.
“A spot in the Qatar squad will be earned on the field.”
Eight minutes into the second half, Yannick Carrasco doubled the lead, and although Erik Sorga pulled one back for the visitors, Thorgan Hazard put the game out of reach shortly after.
That victory meant that Wales, who had already qualified for the playoffs, would be unable to catch them.
The Welsh, boosted by the presence of Bale, who was making his 100th appearance, put on their own impressive display, with Aaron Ramsay scoring twice on a raucous night in Cardiff.
Meanwhile, the Dutch, who would have qualified with a win over Montenegro, will rue careless defending after Memphis Depay scored twice to put them up 2-0.
Ilija Vukotic scored on his international debut in the 82nd minute to give the home side hope, and Nikola Vujnovic looped in a header four minutes later to put an end to the orange march to Qatar.
“The way we played in the second half was just outrageous,” said Dutch captain Virgil Van Dijk to NOS.
“Our organization was abysmal. We ought to have qualified here.”
The Dutch are only two points ahead of Turkey, who defeated Gibraltar by six goals, and Norway, who were held to a 0-0 draw in Oslo by Latvia without the injured Erling Braut Haaland.
In the final round of matches, the Dutch will host Norway in Rotterdam on Tuesday, while Turkey will travel to Montenegro.
France and Belgium join Denmark and Germany as confirmed European qualifiers, with the remaining six automatic places to be decided on the final matchday.
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