THE DAY REPLAYED – Shuddersome déjà vu threatened the Parisien skies. Three men in blue quelled the storm. A misstep never menaced in Aveiro. One monster in maroon made sure of that.
Elsewhere, a new hero drained some Belarussians in ‘The Tub’, an unlikely hero emerged in a stadium saluting an athlete, one group’s games proved one-sided and another section produced a see-sawing thriller. Join FIFA.com for a recap of a riveting day on the Old Continent.
Group A: France 4-1 Bulgaria, Luxembourg 0-1 Sweden, Netherlands 4-1 Belarus
Group B: Hungary 2-3 Switzerland, Latvia 0-2 Faroe Islands, Portugal 6-0 Andorra
Group H: Belgium 4-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia 4-0 Gibraltar, Greece 2-0 Cyprus
Match of the day
Hungary 2-3 Switzerland
Haris Seferovic (51), Adam Szalai (53), Ricardo Rodriguez (67), Szalai (71), Valentin Stocker (90)
The first 45 were, predictably, tight in boisterous Budapest. The second were, unpredictably, chaotic. Haris Seferovic reacted to a rebound to put Switzerland ahead. Adam Szalai reacted to a rebound to equalise seconds after play had restarted. Ricardo Rodriguez’s deceptive, bouncing volley restored Swiss ascendency. Szalai, again, levelled, putting his head where most wouldn’t have dared. Then, in stoppage time, moments after coming on, Valentin Stocker snatched a thrilling win that left Vladimir Petkovic’s team two points clear at the top.
Portugal recovered from a Ronaldo-less loss in Switzerland with a Ronaldo-decorated thumping of Andorra. The chiselled 31-year-old finished it with four goals. His victims finished it with nine men. In Group B’s remaining contest, the Faroe Islands added another page to their riveting rise with a 2-0 win in Latvia to move on to four points.
Flashbacks frightened every Frenchman. Bulgaria left the Parc des Princes broken-hearted in 1993, and they hinted at denting the World Cop hopes of another star-stacked Bleus side at the same venue. Mihail Aleksandrov won and dispatched an early penalty, but G-force awoke to overpower the overmatched visitors. Kevin Gameiro, overlooked when Didier Deschamps selected his UEFA EURO 2016 squad but now starting ahead of a crop of celebrity strikers, bagged a brace. Antoine Griezmann delivered a goal and an assist. France are now level on four points at the Group A summit alongside the Netherlands, who trounced Belarus 4-1, and Sweden, whose victory in Luxembourg was indebted to a rare goal from right-back Mikael Lustig.
Belgium and Greece cruised on to maximum points from two games in Group H – both aided by backline blunders. Cyprus gifted the EURO 2004 kings two first-half goals, while Bosnia Herzegovina asked questions of Belgium for 25 minutes before self-destructing. An own goal and some forgettable defending enabled Les Diables Rouges to go 2-0 within a few minutes, and by the time it was over, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Toby Alderweireld were on the scoresheet. Gibraltar got to half-time at deadlock, but were overwhelmed by Estonia thereafter.
Player of the day
He’s never played for one of the Netherlands’ ‘big three’ clubs. He’s never played at a FIFA finals competition. He’s based in Russia. His social media posts are almost exclusively about football. He’s shy rather than showy. But if you didn’t know who Quincy Promes was, you do now. The 24-year-old winger helped create, and coolly converted, the first. He stylishly slammed home the second.
5 - Europeans are all that outrank Ronaldo on the list of international football’s all-time leading marksmen: Ferenc Puskas (84), Sandor Kocsis (75), Miroslav Klose (71), Gerd Muller and Robbie Keane (both 68). The Portuguese mega-star’s quartet flew him past Zlatan Ibrahimovic (62) and on to 65 goals for his country.
Did you know?
Promes’ second for the Dutch didn’t just nutmeg one Belarussian defender, but two!
What they said
“We knew that the first goal would be important because they play with 11 men behind the ball. We started well, scored two goals in the first five minutes, and after that everything was easier. We know that Switzerland won and we'll have to battle hard, because it’s going to be really tricky to go through," Cristiano Ronaldo.