The Netherlands qualify, Wales reach the playoffs


World Cup 2022’s European qualifiers finally came to an end on Tuesday night, when groups D, E and G ended.

Tonight’s biggest surprise came in Cardiff, where Wales hosted the world’s top ranked international side in Belgium.

Elsewhere, the Netherlands needed to avoid defeat and hope that results elsewhere did not go against them when they met Norway, and already qualified France was in action against Finland.

Here is your summary of the night’s action …

Benzema and Mbappe were the stars of the show / FRANCK FIFE / GettyImages

World Cup holder France ended their successful qualifying campaign with a painstaking 2-0 victory over Finland in Helsinki, which puts an end to the hosts’ hopes of reaching next year’s spectacle in the process.

Substitute Karim Benzema opened the scoring for a rotating French team with a rejected strike and after giving the assist to the opener, Kylian Mbappé got his own goal 20 minutes after the time with a fine finish.

Ukraine took group D’s playoff spot at the expense of Finland, bunnyhopping them to second place with their own 2-0 win away. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It was another famous night for Wales against Belgium / PAUL ELLIS / GettyImages

The shock of the night came in Cardiff where Wales held the world’s highest ranked team Belgium to an unlikely 1-1 draw and secured their place in the playoffs, while their guests of course had already qualified.

Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring early with a typically accurate low finish from the edge of the box, but Kieffer Moore shot home an equalizer just after half an hour after a terrible Belgian defense.

The hosts held on even though they only had 24% of the ball possession, and the points were enough to do so Czech Republic2-0 victory over Estonia in Prague irrelevant.

There were mixed feelings in Rotterdam / ANP Sport / GettyImages

There should have been drama in Rotterdam as well, but a dull show from both Netherlands and Norway behind closed doors meant that this three-way shooting for automatic qualification did not live up to the invoicing.

Two late goals from Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay won the match for the Dutch and ensured that they finished at the top of Group G, while Turkeywin by 2-1 Montenegro means that they skip the defeated Norwegians to take the playoff spot.

Elsewhere, Gibraltar was defeated 3-1 at home to Latvia in what was inevitably a dead rubber.

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