KDB, Lukaku lead Belgium; Surprise draw for France

The first matchday of UEFA World Cup qualifying is genuinely out of its mind.

It began with the only early start of the day, a 1pm ET kickoff that saw Turkey’s massive takedown of the Netherlands, and the goals kept coming across Europe.

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The Czech Republic scored six. Gareth Bale and Kevin De Bruyne traded heroics early in Belgium – Wales but the favorites emerged with the points.

Portugal needed an own goal to beat Azerbaijan, while Malta properly scared Russia and Slovakia was flummoxed by 100th-ranked Cyprus.

Ukraine took advantage of poor finishing from France to remind the reigning World Cup winners that a place in Qatar is not a given. Slovenia issued a harsher warning to 2018 finalist Croatia.

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Belgium 3-1 Wales

Going away to Belgium is the three points no Group E team is planning on, but Gareth Bale and Wales had some early dreams of it on Wednesday.

Bale worked a terrific team play with Connor Roberts and Harry Wilson that saw four one-touch plays including an outside-of-the-boot flick from the Spurs loanee en route to Wilson’s tidy finish.

But Kevin De Bruyne had an answer a dozen minutes later with a powerful bounding shot off a Thorgan Hazard assist, the latter making it 2-1 to the Red Devils in the 28th.

Romelu Lukaku rounded ou the scoring with a 73rd minute penalty as Roberto Martinez’s Belgium had 74 percent of the ball and 12 of the match’s 16 shot attempts.


Gareth Bale at the ❤️ of the play! pic.twitter.com/gIRN03UuTp

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 24, 2021

France 1-1 Ukraine

Ukraine will be thrilled to have answered Antoine Griezmann’s delightful opener to take a point from the World Cup champs in France, a Presnel Kimpembe own goal putting Ukraine on level terms.

Story continues

The visitors didn’t manage a shot on target but France only put three of their 18 attempts on frame as the misses were plenty.

Griezmann gives France the lead with a classy finish 👌 pic.twitter.com/h1AT1nc3Wi

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 24, 2021


Group APortugal 1-0 AzerbaijanSerbia 3-2 Republic of Ireland

Group DFinland 2-2 Bosnia and HerzegovinaFrance 1-1 Ukraine

Group EBelgium 3-1 WalesEstonia 2-6 Czech Republic

Group GGibraltar 0-3 NorwayTurkey 4-2 NetherlandsLatvia 1-2 Montenegro

Group HCyprus 0-0 SlovakiaMalta 1-3 Russia

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World Cup qualifying: KDB, Lukaku lead Belgium; Surprise draw for France originally appeared on NBCSports.com


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