Kylian Mbappe on Saturday scored a hat-trick in France’s record-breaking 14-0 thrashing of 10-man Gibraltar as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Romania booked their places at UEFA Euro 2024.
Les Bleus set a new record margin of victory in European qualifying and a national record in Nice, France.
Ethan Santos’ own-goal and Marcus Thuram had already opened the floodgates before 17-year-old Warren Zaire-Emery scored.
That was Zaire-Emery’s last contribution as the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was forced off with an ankle injury, but a red card for Santos after just 18 minutes allowed the FIFA World Cup finalists to run amok.
Mbappe’s penalty made it 4-0 and Jonathan Clauss, Kingsley Coman and Youssouf Fofana all scored before halftime.
Adrien Rabiot, Coman again and Ousmane Dembele kept the score ticking over before Mbappe struck twice to seal his hat-trick in style.
The France captain lobbed Dayle Coleing from just inside the Gibraltar half to register his 300th career goal at the age of just 24.
Olivier Giroud then came off the bench to grab the final two goals and ensure that the history books were rewritten.
However, the scoreline is likely to raise fresh questions over the need for such clashes between giants and minnows in a congested fixture calendar.
“We did everything to make this score happen. That is the ambition that there is in this team,” France manager Didier Deschamps said.
Just one goal was enough to ensure the Dutch joined France in qualifying from Group B with a 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland.
Wout Weghorst’s powerful drive separated the sides in Amsterdam in what is likely to be Irish boss Satephen Kenny’s final competitive game in charge.
“In the end, it’s about winning the game. We knew we needed the three points to qualify directly today, at home with our own fans,” Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo said.
“We created a lot of chances, opportunities, but we have to score more goals and have more finesse in the final third,” Gakpo said.
Romania reached just a second major tournament since 2008 by ending Israel’s chances of automatic qualification with a 2-1 win.
Despite being forced to play what should have been a home fixture in Hungary due to the war between Israel and Hamas, Israel went in front after just two minutes through Eran Zahavi.
However, Romania hit back quickly to level through George Puscas and secured their place in Germany thanks to Ianis Hagi, son of Gheorghe Hagi who inspired the Romanians famous run to the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals.
Switzerland also qualified despite being held 1-1 at home by Kosovo.
Romania are now in pole position to win Group I with a draw at home to Switzerland tomorrow enough to secure top spot.
Wales’ hopes of reaching a third consecutive European Championship were dealt a huge blow by a 1-1 draw away to Armenia.
Manager Rob Page’s men began the day with automatic qualification in their own hands, but Wales fell behind early on to Lucas Zelarayan’s strike from outside the box in Yerevan.
Nair Tiknizyan’s own-goal brought the visitors level before halftime, but Wales failed to find a winner, and that leaves them needing Croatia to slip up.
Last year’s World Cup semi-finalists moved into second place in Group D thanks to a 2-0 win in Latvia as Lovro Majer and Andrej Kramaric struck inside the first 16 minutes.
Wales must beat already-qualified Turkey in Cardiff tomorrow and hope Croatia fail to beat Armenia at home.
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