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.

[ MORE: World Cup qualifying hub ]

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.

DREAM START FOR WALES AGAINST BELGIUM!

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

Elsewhere

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

Published: 2021-03-24 21:59:18

Tags: #KDB #Lukaku #lead #Belgium #Surprise #draw #France

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