Paris: England and France scored victories over international underdogs in Euro 2024 qualifying on Friday, but Wales̵7; hopes of reaching next year’s final in Germany were dealt a blow with a 4-2 defeat by Armenia.
Gareth Southgate’s England scored twice from the penalty spot as they cruised to a 4-0 win over Malta, ranked 172nd in the world, and maintained their perfect record in Group C.
Malta defender Ferdinando Appa headed home Bukayo Saka’s cross to give England an early lead and Trent Alexander-Arnold made it 2-0 with a superb strike.
Harry Kane, who became England’s all-time top scorer during the last international window in March, made it 3–0 this campaign with three goals in three games including a penalty.
Substitute Callum Wilson completed the scoring late on from another spot-kick given away for handball following a VAR investigation.
“Obviously we know we have the quality to win games and then it’s about mindset. I thought from the start that was excellent,” Southgate said.
England are six points ahead of Ukraine, Italy and North Macedonia, although they have played one match more.
While Italy currently feature in the League of Nations final, Ukraine made a remarkable comeback with a 3–2 win in North Macedonia to pick up their first point.
An Enis Bardi penalty and a superb curling strike from Napoli’s Elgeif Elmas put North Macedonia – who qualified for Euro 2020 – two goals up.
Bournemouth defender Ilya Zabarny pulled one back for Ukraine just after the hour mark and they then equalized through Yukhim Konoplia.
North Macedonia, which visits England on Monday, were reduced to 10 men before Viktor Tsygankov completed the comeback from a cross from Chelsea’s Mykhailo Mudrić with seven minutes remaining.
Kylian Mbappe brushed aside speculation about his future at Paris Saint-Germain as he captained France to a 3-0 win over Group B outsiders Gibraltar in Faro, Portugal.
Olivier Giroud’s early header put France ahead and Mbappe added a penalty awarded for handball in first-half stoppage time.
France got their third late on when Ayman Moulayhi turned in Embappé’s low cross to score his own goal.
France coach Didier Deschamps said, “The objective was to win and get the job done but we should have scored more goals.”
The World Cup runners-up top Group B with a maximum of nine points from three matches, three points ahead of Greece, who beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in Athens.
Captain Tasos Bakasetas put the hosts ahead with a penalty before Nathan Collins equalised, but Giorgos Masouras got the winner for Greece, who visit France on Monday.
Ireland finished the game with 10 men after the late sending off of Matt Doherty.
Wales have qualified for the last two European Championships, reaching the knockout stage on both occasions, but their chances of making it to Euro 2024 are in limbo after losing to Armenia in Cardiff.
Daniel James put Wales ahead but Argentine-born Lucas Zelarayan and German-born youngster Grant-Leon Ranos both scored twice for Armenia.
Harry Wilson made another comeback for Wales, but he had Kiefer Moore sent off towards the end and are currently third in Group D, two points behind leaders Turkey, who won 3–2 in Latvia. Won the victory
Turkey twice took the lead in the 94th minute when Kristers Tobers scored the second goal for Latvia. However, Irfan Can Kahvesi scored the winner a minute later.
Denmark topped Group H with six points among the four teams after beating Northern Ireland 1-0 in Copenhagen.
Wolfsburg’s Jonas Wind scored the winner, although Callum Marshall was denied an injury-time equalizer for Northern Ireland after a lengthy VAR investigation found an offside.
Kazakhstan and Finland have also moved to six points after defeating San Marino (3-0) and Slovenia (2-0) respectively.
Switzerland made it three wins out of three in Group I with a 2–1 win in Andorra.
They are two points above Romania, who drew 0-0 in Kosovo, while Israel scored two late goals to beat Belarus 2-1 in Budapest.