Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay scored late as the Netherlands qualified for next year’s World Cup with a 2-0 home victory over Norway on Tuesday to win Group G. The Dutch return to the finals after missing out on the 2018 tournament in Russia but with little conviction after limping through their last two qualifiers.
Bergwijn hammered home a right-foot shot in the 84th minute that flew into the back of net to the relief of the home side and Depay made sure of the result as he finished off a breakaway after being set up by Bergwijn deep in stoppage time. It was Depay’s 12th goal of the campaign, tying him with Harry Kane of England in the European qualifying scoring charts.
They had been eight minutes from securing early qualification on Saturday before giving up two goals to draw in Montenegro but Tuesday’s victory in an empty stadium due to Covid-19 restrictions was enough to win the group. Netherlands finished with 23 points from 10 games, two more than Turkey, who won 2-1 away to Montenegro to secure a play-off spot. Norway ended third in the group with 18 points.
Turkey got off to a terrible start as they conceded a fourth-minute goal when Montenegro forward Fatos Beciraj volleyed the ball past Ugurcan Cakir from inside the box. Turkey levelled in the 22nd minute when forward Kerem Akturkoglu scored with a bicycle kick following a superb cross from midfielder Abdulkadir Omur. Turkey applied immense pressure in the second half which bore fruit on the hour when the 20-year-old forward Orkun Kokcu’s drive from outside the box left Matija Sarkic in the home goal helpless. Montenegro finished fourth in the table with 12 points.
Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé were on target again in a sharp second-half performance as France completed their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win in Finland. The French attack stuttered until Benzema came on as a second-half substitute and Mbappé set him up for the opener.
Mbappé then scored France’s second as the world champions, who had already qualified after Saturday’s 8-0 demolition of Kazakhstan, finished top of Group D with 18 points from eight games. Finland, who were hoping to secure a play-off spot, ended up third on 11 points, one behind Ukraine who beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0 away to take second place.
Oleksandr Zinchenko and Artem Dovbyk scored second-half goals to secure Ukraine’s vital 2-0 win in Bosnia. Ukraine dominated the first half, with Roman Yaremchuk twice going close while Zinchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko also missed chances before visiting goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan clawed out a Dennis Hadzikadunic header at the other end.
Zinchenko broke the deadlock in the 59th minute when he tapped the ball into an empty net from three metres as a fine run and cross from the left by Viktor Tsygankov left the Manchester City player with a simple finish. Substitute Dovbyk sealed Ukraine’s berth in the play-offs when he raced clear from the halfway line and steered his shot from inside the area past the home keeper, Nikola Vasilj, in the 79th minute.
In Group E Czech Republic won 2-0 at home against Slovakia thanks to goals from Jakub Brabec and Jan Sykora. The Czechs advance to the play-offs, despite finishing third in the table behind Belgium and Wales, due to their Nations League exploits.