PARIS – France led a trio of teams to qualify for the Euro 2024 tournament as Kylian Mbappe’s double gave them a 2-1 away win against the Netherlands.
The World Cup runners-up, who has a perfect record in Group B, will be joined in the June 14-July 14 tournament in Germany by Portugal and Belgium.
Portugal also maintained a perfect record in Group J by beating Slovakia 3-2 at home while Belgium qualified from Group F with a 3-2 away victory against Austria.
France has not missed Euro finals since 1988.
Mbappe helped France seal qualification for next year’s European Championship by scoring twice over the Netherlands for a perfect sixth win in Group B.
There had been talk before the match at the Johan Cruyff Arena of the 24-year-old France captain being out of form after failing to score in four matches for Paris Saint-Germain, but international duty quickly put an end to the goal drought.
Mbappe opened the scoring in just the seventh minute when he beat Lutsharel Geertruida to a cross from the right by Jonathan Clauss to volley past Brighton goalkeeper Bert Verbruggen, who was making his debut for the Netherlands.
It was Mbappe’s 41st international goal, drawing him level with France great Michel Platini. France´s all-time top scorer, Olivier Giroud, came off the bench in the second half but could not add to his 54 goals.
Mbappe doubled the lead in the 53rd minute when he exchanged passes with Adrien Rabiot on the edge of the Netherlands’ penalty area before curling a shot over Verbruggen.
Feyenoord midfielder Quilindschy Hartman, in his first full international appearance, made it 2-1 with 10 minutes to go when he beat Mike Maignan at the France goalkeeper’s near post. It was the first goal World Cup runner-up France had conceded in the qualifying group.
The Netherlands´ second defeat to France in qualifying left it in third place behind Greece, which beat Ireland 2-0 Friday to move up to second.
Meanwhile, Portugal also completed the job of qualification via a 3-2 victory as they defeated Slovakia in Porto, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice.
Goncalo Ramos and a Ronaldo penalty had the hosts two goals up at half-time, and after David Hancko’s reply, Ronaldo made it 3-1 in the 72nd minute with his 125th international goal.
Stanislav Lobotka netted a second for Slovakia, who is second behind Portugal in Group J.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is having a great time, playing a lot of minutes and scoring a lot of goals for his club,” said Portugal coach Roberto Martinez.
“He has a lot of experience with the national team and he’s a reference point for young players.”
Portugal should have sealed it late on but Diogo Jota was denied by the outstanding Dubravka but the hosts had done enough to stamp their ticket for the Euros.
“We won the match with a very good first half,” said Martinez.
“The important thing was the result. In seven games we’ve shown a perfect attitude. I’m very satisfied, but it’s only a stage.”
In Group F, Belgium sealed progress to the finals with a 3-2 win away against second-placed Austria.
The visitors appeared to be cruising after Dodi Lukebakio’s double and a Romelu Lukaku effort had them three goals up before the hour mark.
Things then became less comfortable as Konrad Laimer pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute, Belgium were reduced to 10 men by a red card for Amadou Onana six minutes later, and Marcel Sabitzer scored an 84th-minute penalty – but Domenico Tedesco’s side managed to see out the win.
Other matches in the pool saw Iceland and Luxembourg draw 1-1 in Reykjavik and Bosnia and Herzegovina win 2-0 in Liechtenstein.