In a thrilling display of talent and skill, both Kylian Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo showcased their scoring prowess to help secure a spot at next year’s European Championship for France and Portugal. These European powerhouses demonstrated their dominance with a perfect record in qualifying, leaving no doubt that they deserve a place in the prestigious tournament. Joining them in their triumph was Belgium, who also clinched a berth in Germany on Friday. Let’s delve into the exceptional performances of these star strikers and the impact they had on their respective teams.
Kylian Mbappé stole the show with two goals, including a remarkable long-range strike, in France’s 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in Amsterdam. From the early minutes, Mbappé exhibited his goal-scoring prowess, volleying a cross from the right by Jonathan Clauss into the net past goalkeeper Bert Verbruggen. This goal marked Mbappé’s 41st international goal, placing him in the esteemed company of France great Michel Platini. Despite recent struggles with Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappé’s performance in this crucial match proved his doubters wrong. According to France coach Didier Deschamps, there was never any question about Mbappé’s abilities, stating, “When he’s like this, obviously France have more chances to win.” Mbappé doubled France’s lead in the 53rd minute, exchanging passes with Adrien Rabiot before curling a shot over Verbruggen. Though France conceded their first goal of the campaign, their victory solidified their spot in the European Championship.
Cristiano Ronaldo once again proved why he is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, scoring twice to lead Portugal to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Slovakia. With these two goals, Ronaldo surpassed his own record tally of international goals, bringing his total to an impressive 125 goals in 202 appearances. His first goal came from the penalty spot, as he expertly dispatched the ball past Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. Forward Goncalo Ramos had previously given Portugal the lead with a header. After Slovakia pulled one back, Ronaldo ensured Portugal’s victory with a clinical finish from a low cross. This outstanding performance showcased Ronaldo’s experience and leadership, making him a source of inspiration for the younger players. Portugal coach Roberto Martinez praised Ronaldo for his contribution to the team, stating, “He is a stimulus and a reference for the youngsters. We are all doing the best we can. It’s not an individual game, it’s a collective game.” With a perfect record of seven straight wins, Portugal’s path to the European Championship has been nothing short of exceptional.
Belgium, known for their formidable team, displayed their dominance yet again with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Austria. Romelu Lukaku continued his impressive scoring form with another goal, taking his tally to nine goals in six games. He was joined by Dodi Lukebakio, who scored two goals, including the opener in the 12th minute. Despite going down to ten men after midfielder Amadou Onana was sent off, Belgium held on to secure the win and their place in the European Championship. This victory showcased Belgium’s tenacity and resilience, as they withstood Austria’s late onslaught to emerge victorious. With 16 points from six games, Belgium’s performance has been outstanding, putting them in a strong position for the upcoming tournament.
The qualifying matches for the European Championship have showcased the extraordinary talent of these footballing giants. Both France and Portugal have relied on their star strikers, Kylian Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo, to guide them to victory. Their exceptional performances have propelled their teams to secure qualification with a perfect record. Belgium, with their unwavering determination, fought hard to secure their place among the European elite. As we look forward to the European Championship, we can expect these powerhouses to continue dazzling us with their skills and passion for the beautiful game.