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Sports

Netherlands beaten by Turkey, France held by Ukraine in World Cup qualifiers

  • The Paris Saint-Germain defender had a late chance to make amends, but headed too close to away goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan.
25 Mar, 2021

PARIS: The Netherlands slumped to a dramatic 4-2 defeat by Turkey in their opening 2022 World Cup qualifier on Wednesday, while reigning champions France were held by Ukraine despite a brilliant Antoine Griezmann goal and Belgium came from behind to beat Wales.

European champions Portugal battled to a 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan, but 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia lost 1-0 in Slovenia as they started their bid to reach the finals in Qatar.

In Istanbul, Turkey led 3-0 shortly after half-time through two Burak Yilmaz goals and a Hakan Calhanoglu strike, but substitutes Davy Klaassen and Luuk de Jong gave Frank de Boer's Dutchmen hope.

Yilmaz's wonderful free-kick sealed him a hat-trick and Turkey a crucial win, though, in a match between the two favourites to qualify from Group G.

"Very disappointing result, and also the way that result came about," De Boer told NOS TV.

The defeat was a dreadful start to the campaign for the Netherlands, who failed to qualify for either Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup, but are one of the fancied sides ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 finals this year.

France kicked off their title defence with a 1-1 draw against Ukraine at the Stade de France.

Griezmann curled a fine finish from outside the box into the top corner in the 19th minute to draw level with David Trezeguet in fourth place on France's all-time goalscoring list, with 34.

But Presnel Kimpembe put through his own net before the hour mark to draw Ukraine level.

The Paris Saint-Germain defender had a late chance to make amends, but headed too close to away goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan.

"We need more accuracy and movement against these opponents," France coach Didier Deschamps told TF1. "Qualifying is a long haul and not a long, quiet river, it never has been."

The other game in Group D saw Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina draw 2-2, with Teemu Pukki netting twice for the Finns in Helsinki. "It left a bad taste in my mouth," said Pukki. "I'm a bit gutted we couldn't get the three points."

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