Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Tireless Mbappé leads France to 3-0 win; Spain, Belgium, Denmark also register wins


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METZ, June 6: Kylian Mbappé scored late in his first game since joining Real Madrid to help France build momentum for the European Championship with a dominant 3-0 win over Luxembourg on Wednesday.
Mbappé, whose Madrid move was finally confirmed Monday, was a constant threat for Luxembourg’s hard-working defenders, but the France captain had to wait until the 85th minute before he could crown his performance with a goal.
Bradley Barcola made his France debut as a substitute and promptly won the ball, ran to the penalty and drew in more defenders before laying the ball off for Mbappé to tuck inside the left post.
In Copenhagen, Christian Eriksen scored late to give Denmark a 2-1 win over Sweden.
Mikel Oyarzabal scored a hat trick after the break to help Spain rout Andorra 5-0.
Belgium earned a 2-0 win over Montenegro with Kevin De Bruyne scoring on his 100th appearance for the Red Devils.
But a host of halftime changes almost cost the team. Leandro Trossard only sealed the win with a penalty in stoppage time.
Slovakia, Belgium’s Group E opponent at the Euros, enjoyed a 4-0 win over minnow San Marino.
Though France’s star-studded team found it tough at times to break through Luxembourg’s defense, coach Didier Deschamps will have been impressed with his team’s relentless pressure and off-the-ball play.
Only the final touch was missing at times.
Deschamps has a chance to fine-tune the side in its final tournament warmup against Canada in Bordeaux on Sunday.
Antoine Griezmann was back after missing the March internationals with an ankle injury.
Randal Kolo Muani made a rare start with Ousmane Dembélé unavailable through illness.
France probed and harried but had to wait nearly the whole of the first half for the opener.
Mbappé drew two defenders to the end line and crossed for Kolo Muani to head past Anthony Moris in the 43rd minute.
Marseille defender Jonathan Clauss finally made it 2-0 with a strike in off the underside of the crossbar.
Christian Eriksen sealed Denmark’s 2-1 win over neighbor Sweden with a long-range strike in the same stadium where he collapsed after a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.
The 32-year-old Eriksen, who had been tormenting the Swedish defense throughout, took the ball past a defender and then unleashed a fierce shot inside the far post in the 86th.
It was his 41st goal in his 129th appearance for Denmark.
Morten Hjulmand likely preserved the win by getting back with a timely challenge to deny Emil Holm when it seemed the Sweden substitute would score.
Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg scored in the second minute to get Denmark off to a great start, but Alexander Isak leveled seven minutes later.
The Danes’ final warm-up will be against Norway on Saturday.
Erling Haaland scored a hat trick to give Norway a 3-0 win over Kosovo. Neither country has qualified for Euro 2024.
Once Real Betis forward Ayoze Pérez opened the scoring, it was only a matter of how many goals Spain would score against Andorra.
Ayoze broke the deadlock after a corner in the 24th when he set the ball up with his first touch and rifled it in from a difficult angle in the next.
Oyarzabal scored his hat trick in a 20-minute period after the break, and Barcelona’s Ferran Torres completed the rout in the 81st.
Spain was without Real Madrid’s Champions League winners Dani Carvajal, Nacho and Joselu. (PTI)


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